British tourism for city breaks in Palma has been increasing, but what now?

30-03-2016Miquel A. Cañellas

The economic prospects of principal tourism regions of Spain seem certain to deteriorate as a consequence of the referendum result. The British tourism market is the second largest in the Balearics, while in the Canaries it is the largest.

Inma Benito, the president of the Majorcan Hoteliers Federation, says that Brexit will be a blow to the Balearic tourism industry. The president of the Palmanova-Magalluf Hoteliers Association, Joan Espina, agrees. He anticipates that the British economy will suffer in the next few years and that will mean fewer tourists.

The Balearic tourism minister, Biel Barceló, had already expressed his concerns about Brexit, saying that a fall in the strength of the pound would lead to a reduction in British tourist spending power.

Questions now, however, might be asked about the wisdom of the timing of the introduction of the tourist tax on 1 July. Did the Balearic government consider the coincidence of this and the referendum vote and therefore the possibility that there might be a leave vote? The consequences of a leave vote should have been clear.

But back in November last year at London's World Travel Market, Barceló said that he was not too concerned about the effects of the tourist tax on the UK tourism market. Given the strength of the pound, the amounts that would need to be paid would not seem great: almost like small change, he said, in so many words.

Ramón Estalella, the president of the national hotels' confederation CEHAT, said that the hotel sector should not be alarmed by the referendum result as it will have only little effect in the medium to long term.

He admitted that today was a "difficult" one, but added that the real concerns were now with the relationship that will be established between the EU and the UK as well as with populist movements in other EU countries.

He accepted that there was no question that a fall in the value of the pound will make holidays dearer for the British. He observed that the British are already booked up for holidays until October, implying that the uncertainty will begin after then. However, he did not believe that there would be radical change, as British tourists have shown themselves to be "tremendously loyal" to Spain - both its beaches and the country itself.

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