Hoteliers and the opposition party on the island were calling for the Island Council to act fast after it was revealed, on Thursday, that Menorca had signed a three-year deal with TUI, Rewe, Thomas Cook and Cosmos-Monarch, to jointly promote the island. The deal, which will cost €9 million over three years, will see all of the companies increase flights, reduce prices and heavily promote Menorca within the British and German markets.
Payment of the €9 million will be split between the Balearic Government which will pay €4.5 million, Central Government which will pay €3 million, and the Island Council of Menorca, which will pay €1.5 million, with the aim to recoup 130,000 visitors to the island.
On hearing the news at the international tourist fair in Madrid (Fitur), the president of the Hotel Federation, Juanjo Riera, demanded the Island Council in Ibiza agree a similar strategy. He said the fall in visitor numbers announced the previous day (see below) now made the deal a necessity. He said it was not a case of whether the Island Council liked or disliked the system, but the simple fact there were now no other alternatives.
The contracts manager for Cosmos-Monarch, Hugh Morgan, said he wished both Mallorca and Ibiza would follow suit, and that for the last three years the Island Council in Menorca, had been supporting the tour operators, which was beginning to pay dividends.
However, the Island President, Xico Tarres, said Menorca was a special case, and they had been losing numbers for years. He said the latest figures showed Ibiza had been the least affected of all the Balearic Islands, and that the new short breaks programme announced earlier in the week, would ensure a 260 per cent increase in the number of visitors during the off-season, or 394,000 tourists over the next three years.
At the event the Balearic Minister for Tourism, Miquel Ferrer, announced Ibiza would be receiving a further €1.5 million to help market the island, money which all agreed was desperately needed.
Meanwhile the Balearic President, Francesc Antich, said at the event that he would be dedicating 2010 to getting tourism within the Balearics back on its feet, whilst calling on all of the administrations on the four islands to throw their weight behind the sector.
Just two days earlier the Balearic Government revealed the final passenger statistics from 2009, and they did not make easy reading. Ibiza and Formentera lost a total of 211,422 visitors over the year, which works out at 16.3 per cent fewer tourists. The figures produced by the National Bureau of Statistics (INE) also revealed that the number of hotel nights enjoyed by visitors was down a whopping 831,285 in the Pine Islands (9.51 per cent fewer than in 2008).
A total of 1,084,687 tourists visited the two islands last year, 311,241 of whom were Spanish and 773,446 foreign, with figures down for each month. However, June saw the biggest percentage change with a drop of 17.18 per cent from the previous year, followed by August (14.86 per cent) and July (13.13 per cent).
Meanwhile, the Balearic Hotel Federation continued the bad news revealing that hotel occupancy during 2009 had fallen below 66%, its lowest levels in over a decade. The report continued that 100 per cent of the hotels in Ibiza were only open in July and August, and that by October less than 65 per cent were still operating.
Despite this most of the tour operators were up-beat about the market for this summer. The majority claimed reservations were at the same levels as last year at this time, although holidays to Mallorca and Menorca were selling better.
Product manager, Manuel Morales, of Rewe, said that although bookings were, at the moment, on a par with last year, he expected to increase sales by eight per cent over the course of the year.
Hugh Morgan was slightly more optimistic, predicting his company would be increasing sales by 50 per cent in 2010.