Alternative bus services for cruise passengers were first introduced almost two years ago. | Gabriel Alomar


New bus stops in Palma for cruise ship passengers were established in the hope that they would decongest the old centre of the city. When this scheme was first announced, it was well received. Cruise operators were among those in favour.

A month ago there was a report which suggested that these stops had been a flop: only one per cent of passengers were using them. Nevertheless, the tourism ministry dismissed the idea that the scheme - essentially an initiative driven by the town hall - had failed. For the first time, the ministry said, "we are managing the visits".

There is now further information, and it comes from the Palma365 Foundation. It reports that between July 2017 and the current month, 12,842 tourists took advantage of buses going to these "alternative" stops. The foundation adds that these equate to one out of two passengers with a "contracted" excursion into Palma. But the number is clearly low. In the first quarter of this year alone, there were almost 175,000 passengers in total.

Pedro Homar, the manager of Palma365, believes the figures are "very positive", but he adds that passengers who haven't booked an excursion - which sounds like a high majority of them - don't want to take a bus to somewhere in the city and not really know they are. Homar suggests, therefore, that there should be more signage in the city. He also anticipates that there will be more of these alternative bus stops.