Rather than sun and beach, tourists want "an experience". | Pilar Pellicer


At a Palma forum on Tuesday to discuss the sustainability and viability of the current Balearic tourism model, Gabriel Subías, CEO of the Iberostar Group's W2M World to Meet travel division, pointed to his concern regarding "a great divorce between our industry and society".

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He observed that the model being sold today is totally out of date and hasn't adapted to the needs or preferences of current demand. "The tourism model we have was designed for the customer of the 1970s; that customer has changed." He argued that the tourism industry cannot impose a particular model on customers, as they are "sovereign". "We must listen and hear what they want". In his view, "sun and beach tourism is not what people are looking for today, what they are looking for is to have an experience".

He added that problems with tourist overcrowding this summer reflect how far the islands currently are from achieving a model of sustainability to which they should aspire. This in turn results in social disaffection with the tourism industry. "It is not tourism that must be made sustainable, it is our lives, which today are not. But it also has to be socially and economically sustainable."