"The market was beginning to take off and the UK measures have stopped it in its tracks"

With great concern and uncertainty, the Balearic tourism businessmen peer over the next few weeks on the islands. Faced with a changing scenario that every day that passes fluctuates incessantly, and when many of them still lick the wounds caused by the closure of Punta Ballena and part of Playa de Palma, the latest decisions taken by the United Kingdom regarding Spain cast pessimism on the evolution of the main economic engine of the archipelago.

The quarantine imposed on passengers returning to Great Britain from Spain and the recommendation of the Executive of Boris Johnson that its citizens do not travel to our country - including Balearic Islands - if it is not for essential reasons have been fitted as a hard blow from which some hesitate to be able to recover in the short term.

The executive vice president of the Exceltur tourist lobby, José Luis Zoreda, explained that the income from British tourists totaled 4,572 million euros in 2019. "That is what is at stake," added Zoreda, for whom the quarantine is "devastating", especially in the Balearic Islands, the Costa Blanca, the Costa del Sol and the Canary Islands.

The Mallorca Hotel Business Federation (FEHM) warns of the "cascade" of cancellations produced since the British Government decided to extend its measures to the Balearic Islands. Although they assure that it is still premature to calculate the cost that this new attack will suppose for the hoteliers of the islands, sources of the FEHM point out to elDiario.es that some establishments are rethinking their reopening.

"The market was starting to take off timidly and the latest measures by the United Kingdom have stopped it in its tracks," say hoteliers in Mallorca. Its president, María Frontera, also considers that this new announcement "only serves to hinder and aggravate the situation that the Balearic Islands were already dragging by the imposition of quarantine."

However, the FEHM affirms that 57% of the hotel plant is open and there are establishments whose occupancy, at the moment, ranges between 30 and 50%. "Depending on the chains, some have decided to focus their clients on three or four hotels."

One of the groups that has expressed its concern at the current situation is Iberostar, from where they fear that other markets may join the initiative taken by the United Kingdom, a measure that they hope will be reversed soon. "We have returned to the operation in a responsible way, working hard to preserve the safety and health of workers and customers. The markets should recognize that effort as companies and as a country is being done," they emphasize.

As other hoteliers advocate, the chain chaired by Miquel Fluxà calls for the establishment of safe corridors from the United Kingdom, both with the Balearic Islands and with the Canary Islands, where the impact of the pandemic is much less than in other national and international destinations. In the opinion of the business group, this would allow them to continue with the reopens by applying the measures that each Autonomous Community has designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

And it is that, beyond the figures, the Balearic tourism businessmen agree to emphasize one aspect: the islands are a safe destination and tourist establishments have "strictly" complied with all the required health protocols. And that is something that they want the British Government to value when making their decisions.

One of the people who has insisted the most in recent days is the president of the Confederation of Business Associations of the Balearic Islands (CAEB), Carmen Planas. It firmly states that all the branches that make up the tourist value chain - not only the accommodation sector but also areas such as transport, commerce, restaurants, private healthcare or complementary services - have been decisive for the Balearic Islands to be deserving of the Government to advance its openness to tourism.

"We have half the number of coronavirus cases that the United Kingdom has and the level of pandemic control in the Balearic Islands is double that of the British country," he stresses. For this reason, he requests that the central government maintain the necessary diplomatic relations so that the non-recommendation to travel to the Balearic Islands is lifted.

The small and medium businessmen of the islands also join the demands. They underline that any solution that does not go through guaranteeing a safe corridor between the United Kingdom and the Balearic Islands will suppose "a hard blow" to the tourism sector and "a tremendous injustice" in light of the management that is being carried out in the archipelago to cushion the impact of the coronavirus, as stated by the president of the employers' association of the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises of Mallorca (Pimem), Jordi Mora.

However, from the restoration branch of Pimem, its president, Eugènia Cusí, points out that this is a situation that was seen to come because, in her opinion, "there is a lack of anticipation when communicating the excellent work being done by the great most companies in the catering sector. " And in this line the president of the Association of Small and Medium Hotels, Juan Manuel Ordinas, also pronounces, who stresses that "there can be no truce when it comes to sending information to the British market about the clear and different situation of our archipelago with respect to to other destinations in Spain ".

Now, the Balearic businessmen are clinging like a burning nail to what, with approximately 4.5 million annual travelers - turned into a chimera this year - is their main source market, Germany. Although in fear of a possible rebound effect after the UK measures, it is their great hope in the midst of an anomalous tourist season on which the outbreaks of the pandemic continue to fly.

Meanwhile, from the Govern they do not throw in the towel regarding British tourism. Its president, Francina Armengol, has already stated that the regional government "does not give up the negotiation for loss" in order to open safe tourist corridors with the United Kingdom. Not in vain, she assures that she is working hand in hand with the central government to achieve this.


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