The Palacio de Congresos in Palma has been devastated by the collapse of the Tourism Sector and the economic crisis caused by Covid-19.
Every conference planned for this year has been cancelled which means around 80,000 Congressmen won’t be coming to Majorca after all and altogether that amounts to an estimated 15 million euros worth of lost revenue.
Ramón Vidal, General Director of the Palacio de Congresos complex and the Meliá Palma Bay hotel, says this situation was unthinkable five months ago.
“We have gone from having very optimistic forecasts for this year to the complete opposite. The main events that were scheduled have been renegotiated and transferred to 2021, including 20 major events with an average of 800-3,500 Congressmen, not to mention the losses for Managers, the city and Majorca as a whole,” he said.
"The proactivity of the companies organising the congresses has been absolute, especially at International level and that has made it much easier to transfer all the Congresses and Events from this year to 2021, says Vidal. "The situation has overcome us all and directly affected the entire Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions, or MICE Industry.”
The main events that were cancelled were Medical, Pharmaceutical and Technological Sector Conferences, and International Company and Multinational Corporation Conventions.
"80,000 congressmen won’t be coming to Majorca this year because of the negative effect of the coronavirus,” according to Melía.
The impact of those cancellations is huge for Majorca, in previous years these events have generated around 25 million euros in hotel accommodation, taxis, buses, excursions, restaurants, commerce, complementary offers and many other activities.
"According to our work and organisational forecasts, 2020 was going to be a record year in terms of events and increased visitor numbers. We have tried to recover the maximum number of conferences for 2021, which will make next year a historic year in all indicators of Production, Conferences and Economic activity and we’ve managed to recover more than 80% of everything that was programmed for 2020,” says Ramón Vidal. “The cancellations were due to Administrative impositions by the Ministry of Health and from the beginning our goal is to offer alternative dates and be as flexible as possible,” he adds.
The main Congresses scheduled for this year were: XXVII Congress of the Spanish Society of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Pediatric Nutrition; the XXVII National Congress of General & Family Medicine, or SEMG, with 2,500 delegates, and the Congress of the Spanish Association of Paediatrics, with 1,500 delegates, according to the Palacio de Congresos.
Javier Vich, President of Palma & Cala Mayor Hotel Association said in March that "this situation directly affects the occupation of Palma's establishments and the island's economy,” adding "we are confident that the postponed congresses can be held in Palma sooner or later."
“There will undoubtedly be a negative short-term economic impact on the Island and everything possible will be done to ensure that the MICE programming segment is not altered, but organising these events takes more than a year,” said a Mallorca Convention Bureau spokesperson.
The fact that all of the Congresses have been cancelled directly affects the entire Hotel Sector in Palma.
“Despite the reactivation of the last few weeks, the Hotel Sector will not be able to benefit in any way from the congress activity and that’s a serious problem, because many hotels in Palma's Old Town and the Bay of Palma manage to increase their occupancy levels in the low and medium season months, but this autumn and winter it will be impossible to count on that,” said a Hotel Sector spokesperson.
In 2019, the Palacio de Congresos hosted 282 events and a turnover of 14.1 million euros and had 65,953 attendees and that figure was forecast to increase by 15% in 2020.
Meliá’s Infrastructure Manager estimated that the 2020 fiscal year would have been the best year since the hotel opened in April 2017.
In early March no-one thought that the coronavirus crisis would have such a negative effect on all Productive Economic Sectors.
Apart from the drop in activity at the Palacio de Congresos, business meetings and incentive trips to hotels in Palma and the rest of the island have been cancelled, which will have a huge economic impact.