Palma Tourism Board manager Pedro Homar offers an insight into the impact of the coronavirus crisis on one of the UK’s most popular destinations, and shares his vision for the future

It is vital that the private and public sector and the whole tourism sector in Palma comes together to overcome this crisis.  Behind the scenes, a promotional plan has been developed with the input of multiple tourism stakeholders.

We are closely following the advice of our national government and we feel positive that plans have now been initiated to start reopening elements of the tourism sector.

Over the last few weeks our hotelier partners have been working through different scenarios to ensure that they are able to follow government advice and guarantee the safety of all their staff and clients, as well as being able to get up and running as soon as possible.

In terms of investment, between 2019 and 2020, the beach area of Playa de Palma bordering the city of Palma has received investment of six million euros; including pavements and tarmac, LED lighting, new parking facilities and investment for a greener tourism zone with over €700,000 invested into planting trees.

We feel confident that when travel bans are lifted, Palma will be in an even stronger position to welcome visitors.

We have learnt that we must reinforce some of our key tourism attributes such as being a safe, reliable and hygiene-conscious destination. These have always been important strengths and a key part of our tourism proposition, but now, more than ever, we need to reinforce these messages and give travellers the confidence they need to come back to Palma when they are able to do so.

Hope for August return

Our hope is that in August we can receive our first wave of tourists. We will start with the local and domestic market which will help provide a lifeline to some of the tourism and hospitality businesses. We are working through the different measures that the “new normal” will include; looking at ways to create safe distances between people, as well as safety and hygiene protocols. The sector needs to be as prepared as possible.

It is worth highlighting that even before the global pandemic, we were looking at measures to reduce crowds in the city and better manage the flow of tourists with heat sensors and a new app to redirect visitors to lesser-crowded areas. The focus is to ensure that Palma is a sustainable tourism destination that can be enjoyed for many years to come.

Importance of tourism

Tourism is vitally important for our city and is our main economic driver.  We are under no illusions that 2020 isn’t going to be a very tough year for the sector. We must use this situation to think about how we can move forward and strengthen our tourism proposition in the future.

For some time, we have marketed Palma as a year-round destination and although summer will be challenging; we hope visitors will consider coming in the autumn and winter months when there are no crowds and the city is at its most authentic.  We also hope we can plan for a strong season in 2021.

Remaining optimistic

Since the beginning of the state of alert, we have focused our communications on providing useful information on the management of the crisis, insisting at all times the need to stay at home to stop the spread of the virus.

We decided to navigate this situation in an optimistic and friendly way, sharing images on social channels of the most emblematic locations in the city, making suggestions for future activities and highlighting the best of the destination along with some of its unique features.

We used a more emotive tone with positive messages to create a ‘halo’ of hope, always keeping in mind the importance of staying at home now in order to travel tomorrow.

Welcoming British visitors

The UK is the second-strongest inbound market to Palma, after Germany. Our British visitors and residents are an important part of our city’s cosmopolitan identity and for many years we have received strong support from the British tourism industry.

We learn a great deal from our visitors and we look forward to opening our arms to British tourists as soon as restrictions are lifted and travel between the two countries is permitted.