Tour operators debate with CEO of and Jet2holidays, Steve Heapy via video conference. | Pere Bota

The CEO of and Jet2holidays, Steve Heapy, was today one of the key note speakers at a ‘Mallorca Safe Tourism’ forum organised by the Council of Majorca’s Tourism Foundation in Palma and he did not mince his words.

Heapy stressed that tour operators airlines are having to confront an extremely challenging financial situation and that it is time for the European Union to act as a united body and introduce three vital measures, clear air corridors, unified categorising of the infection levels and foment a robust Covid testing system.

“We are 28 countries, but as a united body, we’re working too slowly, I’ve seen glaciers move more quickly. We need Europe to come together with a unified plan to get travel moving again otherwise, instead of slipping into a recession, we’ll fall into a depression,” he told the forum via video-conference.

Asked about the importance of sustainable tourism, he said, while Jet2, along with many other tour operators and airlines have become increasingly aware and involved in protecting, preserving and promoting the environment, the industry in the UK, for example, is under too much pressure to invest in environmental sustainability.

“In the UK, the travel industry has been given government bail outs or return loans but on the provisory that we embrace the environment more and take extra steps to reduce our green foot print. There could not a worst time make such demands. Out financial situation is drastically poor and instead of pushing their environmental agenda on us so hard, we should be given the time to repair our balance sheets before tackling the environment. So, right now the ones should be on financial sustainability. I am well ware of the investment which has been made, as part of a sustainable tourism project in Majorca, to redevelop Magalluf and the Playa de Palma with the aim of rooting out party tourism and the likes, but we have to be careful not to alienate holidaymakers.

“There are hundreds of thousands of tourists who go to Magalluf and the Playa de Palma because they want what is on offer and if you start taking away what people want, they will simply go and find it elsewhere. So we have to tread carefully and not turn a large element of the holidaying population away. The changes in these resorts need to be part of an evolution not a revolution.”