The Balearic Islands authorities have reinforced the value of British tourism to the archipelago in a press conference that took place in a virtual capacity during WTM Virtual.
The press conference welcomed the Balearic Islands’ president Francina Armengol together with the tourism minister, Iago Negueruela who both initiated their speeches by thanking the UK travel industry for maintaining links to the islands and continuing to maintain loyal.
The authorities spoke about the challenges currently faced in the islands and outlined their plans for recovery.
“WTM 2020 marks one of the most critical moments for the tourism industry around the world. Like other destinations, our islands have been impacted heavily by this crisis. Historically the Balearic Islands is the second most popular destination in Spain for British visitors accounting for around 20% of all UK visitor arrivals to the country.
Our priority is to work on solutions to be able to resume the safe flow of tourists to the islands and to bring back our loyal UK visitors.
We know that our islands are valued in the United Kingdom for our tourism proposition in terms of proximity, air connections, tourism infrastructure, quality, price, our climate, amongst other things but now our focus is to build back the confidence in the destination.
This includes illustrating the measures that are being adopted to guarantee visitors and residents’ health and wellbeing and ongoing work with our public and private sector partners; as well as tourism bodies in the UK, such as ABTA, to be able to establish safe travel protocols.
Our goal is to also implement the requirement for diagnostic testing for tourism arrivals to show active Covid-19 infections. We know that to implement this, regulations will need to be established but if necessary, the Balearic Islands government is willing to guarantee diagnostic tests for visitors.
We know that until a vaccine is implemented, we must learn to live with the virus and therefore our ambition is to reduce the infection levels and create safe protocols to allow tourism to resume.”
Armengol echoed the minister’s comments, also stating that the impact of the pandemic represented a 40% drop in GDP in the archipelago. She highlighted that the number one government objective is health and security, followed by economic and social recovery.
The ambition is to work closely with the sector to establish protocols so that tourism can resume in a safe way by March 2021.
The authorities also outlined their commitment to sustainability, showcasing their objective to create a positive balance between the economic activity created by tourism and the need to protect the environment, emphasising their greatest asset, the islands’ natural heritage.
“We must promote the principles of the circular economy, focusing on business models based on differentiation and innovation that are respectful of the environment.
Tourism drives other economic activity which impacts energy and water usage, as well as food consumption.
It is essential that we work towards sustainable economies and consider that environmental sustainability cannot be achieved without social sustainability.
Human resource is one of the main tourism attributes and it is important that the sector receives strong training and remuneration.
Only by focusing on sustainable solutions will we be able to overcome future challenges.
The situation is very delicate however we are confronting the pandemic in a decisive manner which is illustrated by the fact that we were the first region in Spain to be able to emerge from the previous crisis with our pilot plan.
This crisis has forced us to adapt and revaluate our proposition. We need to work towards a quality tourism model that generates quality employment; and ultimately a healthy and competitive economy.”
Looking towards the future, Armengol highlighted how the islands will move towards a model which is more capable of stopping the “great threat of our time”; climate change and environmental destruction, focusing on protection, regeneration, clean energy and responsible use of resources.
“From this pandemic we will emerge as a society more aware of the vulnerability of humanity and the fragility of the planet, a more responsible, more committed, more ethical society, which will not only want to travel and enjoy our islands, but will have a greater desire to take care of them.”
To learn more about the Balearic Islands:
For more information on what to see and to in the Balearic Islands, please visit: www.illesbalears.travel;
Editorial enquiries can be directed to BalearicIslands@wearelotus.co.uk.