At a Monday evening meeting at the Balearic government's Consolat de Mar headquarters, it was recognised that the collapse of Thomas Cook "will have an impact on the Balearics economy that is without precedent and will affect all tourism business on the islands".
The meeting brought together business associations and unions. There were representatives from the Confederation of Balearic Business Associations, the Pimeb federation of small to medium-sized businesses, travel agencies, retail and distribution. Given the "exceptional crisis", the government explained that it has called on Madrid to adopt a series of labour, fiscal and financial measures to help businesses deal with the disappearance of the tour operator. The national minister for industry, trade and tourism, Reyes Maroto, has promised that there will be such measures for the short term.
Regional tourism minister Iago Negueruela stated that initial assessment of business losses is put at 110 million euros. Emergency measures are therefore needed in order to ensure "the viability of businesses which are affected".
As well as labour-related and financial considerations, the government's strategy will be to home in on tourism promotion, air connectivity and the diversification of markets which supply tourists; countries other than the main markets of the UK and Germany, therefore.
With regard to labour, Negueruela said that the government is pressing for social security payment breaks in order to do all possible in "delaying the end" of the current tourism season. As well as this measure, there are proposals for facilitating business liquidity and for assisting in modernisation. In the medium term, he noted, the challenge is to enable companies affected by the collapse to be able to invest in order to "overcome the crisis".
New marketing channels; favourable financing via the Institute of Official Credit to pay staff and suppliers; postponement of social security payments and IVA (VAT) settlements are all on the table. On connectivity, the regional government will work with the national ministry of development (the ultimate authority for airports and air space) in providing incentives over the coming winter and into 2020. The ministry is to be asked to cut taxes for the three airports in the Balearics by at least 50% for nine months at a minimum.
Particular emphasis is to be given to agreements between the Aetib tourism agency in the Balearics and the national Turespaña agency for guaranteeing existing air routes and creating new ones. Through the Turespaña tie-up, an aim will be to enhance promotional activities in tourism supply markets.
Before the meeting, Negueruela had explained that the Balearic government wants Madrid to speed up procedures to ensure that workers are paid, to facilitate investment in tourist resorts that have been most affected and to set out a specific tourism promotion strategy.
"This is an exceptional situation," the minister said. For employees, it will require collaboration between various entities, such as the employment service and the Salary Guarantee Fund. His view was that although the Spanish government is currently operating in an acting capacity, it will be able to act immediately on some of the measures being proposed. Others, he accepted, would need to be studied and could take more time.
The government estimates that between this month and March there could be the loss of 300,000 tourists. For this reason, it sees measures like airport tax reductions and boosting air routes as vital. There is also a call for there to be an "exceptional campaign" to drive up numbers of Spanish pensioners on Imserso holidays over the winter.
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