UK visitor numbers in the Balearic Islands will remain stable despite recent challenges, according to minister for tourism Iago Negueruela, with operators and airlines upping their product to fill the gap left by Thomas Cook.
Speaking at WTM, Negueruela said: “Although the collapse is still very recent, the market is reacting quickly and other companies are starting to fill the hole created by the loss of the British tour operator.
“Jet2 has added 5,000 additional seats to Palma for this winter, absorbing part of the capacity lost by Thomas Cook.
“Companies such as IAG, Virgin Atlantic and Wizz Air are also very interested in acquiring slots left by Thomas Cook at London Gatwick.
“The Balearic Islands are the second most visited region in Spain for Brits. Last year 3.7 million Brits came, and we believe that figure will remain stable despite uncertainties around Brexit and the Thomas Cook collapse.”
Jet2 has added a total 10,000 more seats to the Balearic Islands for this winter and will be upping its airlift to Menorca for next year’s summer season, with four weekly flights from Birmingham, six from Manchester and five from Stansted.
The airline will also be extending its summer season in Menorca, with flights starting from Easter and lasting through to October.
Alba Star has also added a new flight from Durham Tees Valley Airport to Majorca. Starting in July, it will be operated by travel agent JetsGo Holidays and mark the first flight from Durham to Spain in seven years.
But airlift isn’t the only focus for the islands; Negueruela said sustainability would also be key in maintaining stability from the UK market.
“British tourism is essential to the Balearics, and we are working hard to ensure the islands are seen as a quality tourism destination,” he said. “The best way to protect the tourists is to protect the destination.”
A sustainable tourist tax was introduced across all islands in 2016 to be invested in sustainable projects. The tax has now raised over €300m and been invested into 200 initiatives.
Yesterday the Palma tourist board announced a commitment to sustainable tourism that involves working with local hoteliers and other businesses, with key measures including adding more charging points for electric vehicles, extending the restricted traffic zones and planting more than 10,000 trees to create a greener city.
“The Balearics are putting in place sustainable measures so that tourism has longevity, ensuring economic and ecological balance across the islands,” said Negueruela.