Germany's leading tour operators are suggesting that there will be a slight fall in German tourism in Majorca this summer but that there will be a five per cent rise in the low season. The season as a whole this year will be from March until the end of November, courtesy of more flights and efforts made in various resorts to tackle seasonality.
Gerald Kassner of Schauinsland-Reisen says that the loss of Air Berlin and Niki will have no impact. Routes and flights - summer and winter - have been picked up by other airlines. Tui's Stefan Baumert explains that the season in Majorca has been lengthened but that in the summer there will be some loss of German tourists because of the renewed competition from other Mediterranean destinations. The tourist tax, he adds, won't have anything to do with any drop in numbers.
The tour operators agree that the competitors - Egypt, Turkey and to a lesser extent Greece - are enjoying high demand this summer. There is some concern with overbooking as a result. Hans Müller of Thomas Cook points to the cost of a hotel room in Egypt and Turkey being at present 20 to 25% lower than in Majorca. For some German tourists, therefore, there is the attraction of lower prices. Müller also doesn't believe that the tourist tax will have any particular impact, suggesting that the price of holidays is more significant.
Because of investments made to hotels in Majorca, the tour operators acknowledge that tourist resorts on the island are perfectly suited for accommodating visitors in the low season. A nine-month season is therefore a reality. For the tourism minister Bel Busquets, an increased number of tourists in autumn and winter was positive. Regarding prices, she added: "We are more expensive, but there is also greater quality in what hotels and other services have to offer. We consider that we are on the right track and we are not fearful of competing destinations taking market share from the Balearics. We are competing on quality, not on price."
* An expectation is that the number of German tourists will top five million this year. This is the figure for the whole of the Balearics; in 2017 it was 4.84 million. Majorca is overwhelmingly the most important island. The number of German tourists who went to Ibiza, Formentera and Minorca last year was under a tenth of the total figure. DRV, the German travel association, said before the ITB fair that bookings for the Balearics this year are up by three per cent.
** The government has been asked by the German tour operators to give a better explanation of investment from tourist tax revenue. Bel Busquets assured them that there will be a project to inform tourists.
*** While the tour operators were saying that the tourist tax will not have an impact on bookings, Tui reckoned that it will mean lower spending in bars, restaurants and other parts of the complementary sector.
**** Despite some of the optimism regarding this year, there is pressure to reduce prices in order to counteract competition from other destinations. This is pressure being felt by the Spanish tourism industry as a whole and not only in the Balearics. The messages that emanate from fairs such as ITB can often appear contradictory. It is said that some leading hotel chains are currently facing falls in German bookings of up to 20%. Moreover, there is already some anxiety about the situation in 2019. As competitor destinations re-establish themselves further, there could be a much greater movement of tourists away from Spain to Turkey in particular.