Interview with Mayor of Calvia
Question —This has been another busy year for Calvia, we have seen numerous changes and improvements. What are the plans for the future?
Answer - This year we have continued with our plan of a progressive series of significant improvements and changes as we push ahead with our campaign to improve quality, security, safety and social harmony.
Our principal aim is to offer all of the tourists who come and spend their holidays in Calvia an unforgettable experience which is going to make them want to return, be this to Magalluf, Palmanova, Santa Ponsa, Peguera, Illetas, whichever of the excellent resorts the municipality of Calvia has to offer. In order to achieve this, and we have done this over the past four years, there have been improvements to and diversification of the products and activities which are on offer in Calvia.
Question — Are the public and private sectors continuing to play an important joint role in this project?
Answer - Yes, the cooperation between the two sectors is very much ongoing and is extremely important. We have already seen the results of this collaboration over the past few years and we will continue working with the private sector, which is fundamental with regard to redeveloping and upgrading Calvia, in particular the hotels. And while the private sector has been investing in improving hotels, we, as a council, have been working in parallel, investing in improving the general urban and natural environment and the infrastructure. We’ve invested a great deal of money and time in protecting and caring for our wonderful beaches and crystal-clear water while also promoting all the large events the municipality not only stages every year but also supports.
We have a number of excellent sporting, cultural and gastronomic events which appeal to different groups of clientele and help to broaden our attraction as a destination.
Question — How has the image of Calvia, in particular Magalluf, changed overseas, in particular in the United Kingdom, over the past five to six years?
Answer -Calvia’s image overseas has changed and improved significantly, especially in the British market, which is very important because resorts like Magalluf and Palmanova are extremely well known in the UK. If you look back some five to six years, they were party resorts, infamous for rowdy tourism and excesses; booze tourism for example. However, more recently, Calvia and these resorts in particular have become beacons of quality tourism, renovation, renewal and revival.
Magalluf, for example, has made huge steps towards becoming a quality resort and this is evident today. We have been working on projects to encourage more family and adult tourism and give them more space in and around the resorts to enjoy quality time together in a safe and protected environment. Obviously, we are still an extremely popular destination for nightlife and entertainment and that’s fine, but it has be conducted within the rules and regulations - the limits have to be respected. We have been working hard on stamping out “excessive tourism” (pub crawls and party boats, etc.) and managed to reestablish a balance between young people having fun, local residents and other holidaymakers, so that everyone is able to enjoy a quality lifestyle and holiday in peace and quiet and in harmony with the natural surroundings.
Question — This year, you have worked closer than ever with the British authorities, here in Calvia and in UK. While the number of incidents and problems has been reduced significantly, there still remain a few issues to be addressed. What are they?
Answer - We have been working extremely hard together - not only here in Calvia and in the resorts, but also in the United Kingdom and on social media. So, in cooperation with the British consulate, we have not only tackled the problems of anti-social behaviour and alcohol abuse at grassroots level in the resorts like Magalluf, we have also drawn young people’s attention to the potential problems and consequences via awareness and information campaigns in the UK. We have not got a problem with some of the resorts being popular for young people who want to come and have some fun and have a good time, but what we’re no longer putting up with is that’s it’s a free-for-all and that everything and anything goes. We’ve have had great success in stamping that out and everyone involved is very satisfied with the results. We have got the message across and it has paid dividend here in Calvia.
We want to create a happy balance between young and family tourism. This year we increased the number of controls and inspections, especially with regard to the sale of cheap alcohol and young people drinking in the streets, bar and club opening times, and noise levels, especially on terraces. All this has helped us create a destination where young people can come and have fun but in a controlled environment where all the various holiday markets are comfortable and compatible.
Question — Calvia continues to be Spain’s most popular single holiday destination, especially in the United Kingdom. How do you intend maintaining Calvia’s pole position in the face of growing competition from other destinations while overcoming problems such as the demise of Thomas Cook?
Answer - Magalluf and Palmanova, in particular, are top destinations for the British. We’re talking about 30,000 hotels beds in the two resorts alone and, with regard to Thomas Cook, they only had a six percent share of the market, so the fallout was not as severe as in other areas. Plus, the hoteliers have become less dependent on tour operators. They are using other booking platforms and this is all part of an overall consolidation plan to not only continue improving hotel quality and standards but also diversify the products we offer out of season. We’re taking the emphasis off sun and beach and paying more attention to the low season - winter and early spring. We have an amazing selection of top quality beaches but we also have a destination which offers a wealth of sporting activities and events, such as the international beach volleyball tournament in Magalluf and Palmanova, the half marathon, the beach rugby, the global football tournament in Santa Ponsa. We also have to mention the cultural events which are extremely important and attract thousands of tourists, such as the Mallorca Live Festival. This year some 30,000 people attended the international music festival in just two days. So, we are always looking for and supporting quality sporting, cultural, musical and family events. Quality is the key here and that is our trademark; our brand if you like.
And that is how we intend to compete with other destinations and that is what we stand for - quality. We offer safety and the possibility to enjoy a vast range of activities in a welcoming environment.
Question — Looking back at the season, what are the initial conclusions and have you managed to extend the season?
Answer - We have just held the first of a number of meetings with all the various sectors involved in tourism in Calvia to analyse the season and we are on par with 2009, which was a great year. We can’t start comparing seasons with the past few years because they were extraordinary for various reasons beyond our control. But, for example, hotel occupancy this September was slightly higher than last year. Tourism spending has also risen and the season is getting longer and this is the direction we want to be moving in. We want to have a longer season so that businesses have more time, that we attract a tourism of a better quality and, what is very important, that the number of tourists doesn’t hamper quality and spending. If, at the end of the day, we have slightly fewer visitors but spending is up, then I think we’re on the right track. It’s a good result.
Obviously, in-resort spending is something we’re always monitoring and of course, with regard to the British market, the strength or weakness of the pound is always going to influence spending. We need a strong pound.
Question — Are there going to be more hotels open this winter?
Answer - There are going to be a few more hotels open and that is very encouraging news because, of late, we’ve become accustomed to a winter during which the vast majority of hotels have closed for two to three months. Not only are the hotels which are staying open all year of a four-star category, more hotels are opening earlier, around the beginning of March, for example, and closing later. So this is also good news for Calvia. The longer we’re open, the more tourists who can come and the more jobs we can create.
Question — Are the hoteliers going to put their rates up?
Answer - I don’t think so, I think they’ll remain pretty much the same. That said, one has to take into account the massive investment many of the hotels in Calvia have made in upgrading the quality of their products. So in one form or another, that financial outlay has to be recuperated. But with a longer season and by maintaining or increasing the number of visitors, I see no reason for major increases in room rates next year. Over the past three years, for example, the number of four-star rooms has increased from around 32 percent to 66 percent or more, so costs obviously have to be covered. But I think the solution, the key issue, is value for money and that is what Calvia offers.
Question — Would you, as Mayor, still like to have more support from the state security services?
Answer - This year, we had some very important developments with regard to security, and the most important was the relocation of the Guardia Civil’s attention to tourists office (SATE) to the very heart of Magalluf. It remained open all season 24/7. This helped us bring a sense of control and calm to the resort in cooperation with the extraordinary work carried out by the members Calvia’s Local Police force, who worked round the clock this summer. Over the past two years, they’ve doubled their efforts, the time spent on the beat and on patrol, working overtime to maintain peace and tranquility in key nightspots. That said, we still need more members of the security services and we will continue asking for reinforcements from central government. The Guardia Civil do a great job but they lack sufficient resources. We still have an issue with bars and clubs failing to respect opening hours or noise levels, but what we have reduced considerably is petty crime and anti-social behaviour in public places.
We’ve managed to make a major breakthrough in reducing the volume of young people coming to Magalluf simply, for example, to party and indulge in excesses, while increasing the number of quality family and adult tourists along with a better quality of young holidaymakers who respect the quality products Calvia now offers and will continue to improve.
Question — How do you envisage Calvia ten years from now?
Answer - I see Calvia as a destination which will have been totally transformed and the leading holiday destination in the Mediterranean. It will be an environmentally and socially sustainable destination in which tourism and residential life will be compatible and which will be operating all year round, providing more and better full-time work and attracting quality tourists from all over the world. We are also working on introducing the very latest digital technology into the resort and hotels so that we, as a council, can learn more about what visitors want and about market changes. Therefore, we can meet demands to the very best of our capabilities.
Question — What is the message Calvia is taking to London?
Answer - Our slogan this year is ‘Calvia is your best choice’. And why is it your best choice? Calvia is a holiday destination which boasts 36 beaches, 14 of which have been awarded the Q for quality award, and that means we have the capability to offer sun and beach holidays of the highest standard. But we’re also going to London in order to draw attention to and promote all of the various international sports tournaments and the training facilities we offer. For example, next year we’re hosting an official ATP grass-court tennis tournament as part of the build-up to Wimbledon. That means tennis players can come to Calvia and play on first-class courts or train at our athletics centre. We have triathlon courses, swimming, fantastic cycling, hiking, running, rugby and football pitches, so why not choose to come to Calvia? These are just a few reasons, and what they demonstrate is that Calvia is a destination to practise and enjoy sport all year round. In addition, there is the excellent gastronomy with a wide selection of top-end quality restaurants, while there are the opportunities to experience and learn about the culture and the traditions of Calvia and our island in general.
Question — How have visitors to Calvia in general reacted to all the improvements which have been made?
Answer - The response has been extremely satisfactory. The reaction has been very positive because they’ve enjoyed the improvements to the environment, the hotels, the infrastructure, the products and the security, and we hope they will return for many years to come. Calvia has always been one of the favourite holiday destinations for the British and we want that to continue. It is a leading European destination where you will enjoy yourself so much that you will want to return.
We are introducting the very latest technical innovations in digital tourism so we can monitor what visitors want, what they like to do, so that we can meet their future demands as best as possible.