For sections of the British media, what happens in Magalluf is of key interest. | Click


The World Travel Market (WTM) at London's ExCel exhibition and convention centre opens on Monday (November 6). Most members of the Balearic delegation will arrive in London on Sunday. They include representatives of the Balearic government, island councils and town halls. Hoteliers will be among those representing the islands' tourism businesses. Politicians from opposition parties are also expected to attend.

One of the biggest tourism and travel fairs in the world, WTM is the first of a 'big three' in Europe for Mallorca and the Balearics - the others are Madrid's Fitur in January and Berlin's ITB in March. In some ways looked upon as being a starting point for preparations for the 2024 season, the organisers suggest that this year's fair will result in a record number of agreements being reached. In reality of course, many agreements were finalised months ago.

For Mallorca and the Balearics, the fair does nevertheless provide an opportunity for presenting and explaining new strategies for tourism promotion. This year's fair also offers the chance for some politicians to get to know UK tourism business leaders. Political change following the elections in May means that there are new faces, but they aren't all new. For example, the councillor for tourism at the Council of Mallorca, José Marcial Rodríguez, will be a familiar face from the past as will be the mayor of Palma, Jaime Martínez, who is a former tourism minister. The current tourism minister, Jaume Bauzá, will be new; he doesn't have a tourism background as such.

The fair comes at a time when the UK market has yet to recover its pre-pandemic number. Up to September there were 3.28 million UK tourists. The total for the nine months was getting on for around half a million lower than in both 2018 (3.32 million) and 2019 (3.31 million). In 2022, there were 2.98 million for the nine months. This was a total influenced by some Covid-related travel restrictions at the start of 2022.

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The 3.28 million compares with 3.88 million for the largest foreign market, Germany, a total almost identical to that for the first nine months of 2019 but down somewhat on 2018 (3.94 million).

Key promotional messages will be rather as they have been for a few years, with an emphasis on the low season and the alternatives to sun-and-beach tourism, e.g. gastronomy and sports. Sustainability will loom large in all messages as will circularity.

Palma will continue its promotion as an all-year destination, there having been success in this regard since the Palma 365 Tourism Foundation was established in 2014 under Pedro Homar, who is still its director and will be one of the most familiar faces among the Balearic delegation.

Calvia will be presenting its own 365 brand, new mayor, Juan Antonio Amengual, keen to promote, among other things, the beaches in the low season. He has promised to have them open with services throughout the winter. Of other town halls, Alcudia's new mayor, Fina Linares, a former tourism councillor, will be reinforcing the promotion of sports tourism and will be drawing attention to the redeveloped balneario beach bars in time for the 2024 season.

But while there will be all the promotion, will WTM be overshadowed by political decisions? This was the case in 2015, for instance, by when it was known that the Balearic government intended to introduce the tourist tax in summer 2016. The political agenda is now dominated by proposed reform of the tourism of excesses law. For a British media ever hungry for news about Mallorca - and Magalluf in particular - this reform (not expected to be enacted until just before the 2024 season) is likely to be of greater interest than the promotional talk.