The first tourist fair of the year, Fitur, closes with very good prospects for the season. The increase in prices in the sector (an average of 7% in the Pitiusas), caused by inflation, and the unknowns about the economic evolution of key countries for our industry -Germany and the United Kingdom, mainly- do not cloud the general optimism among entrepreneurs and institutional managers.
The Spanish were in 2022 the main contingent of tourists that Ibiza and Formentera received, which has to do with the boost that during the pandemic was given to short-distance trips to national destinations that guaranteed health security. There was doubt as to whether the national market would contract when travel returned to normal without restrictions, but the good news is that, on the contrary, it has consolidated and offset the falls in other markets, to the point that tourist spending in the Pitiusas reached 610 million euros, the highest in history and 250 million more than in 2019 (the year before the pandemic).
The edition of Fitur that ends today has therefore been an extraordinary showcase that institutions and businessmen have taken advantage of to publicize the offers, novelties and attractions of the Pitiusas for this year, aware of the extraordinary importance of the national market for the economy of the islands and that it should not be neglected.
Another of the conclusions that the Madrid tourist fair leaves, crowded as it was not remembered, is that there is a great desire to travel after the parenthesis of the pandemic, despite the crisis that affects all of Europe, which has no sign of referring to throughout this year, rather the opposite. The reconversion of the hotel sector to increase quality and the rise in prices recorded on the islands (a trend that has been consolidated for some years now) has increased the clientele with high purchasing power, which is not as affected by the crisis as the middle class or the lower middle class, increasingly impoverished by inflation and that is forced to cut or eliminate expenses such as vacations in order to cover their basic needs.
This situation means that the crisis will have a different impact depending on the type of client each establishment is targeting: in fact, hoteliers maintain that above a certain price threshold, they do not notice that increases affect demand.
Fitur Leaves us With Gore good News
Fitur leaves us with more good news: the agreement to build the second phase of the Palacio de Congresos, a historical claim of the island of Ibiza before the Balearic Government and which until now had received disdain in response. The Government, the Council and the City Council of Santa Eulària have agreed to undertake the missing part of this fundamental infrastructure so that the island can attract another type of tourism throughout the year, that of conventions and congresses, which allows economic activity to be maintained outside season, diversifies the destination and creates wealth and jobs.
Good news, although it is a pity that the commitment of the Executive has taken so long: the plans to provide the island with a Conference Center date back to the year 2000, the current building was inaugurated in September 2008 and from then until now, No Government, neither from the PP nor from the PSOE, had supported the conclusion of these installations, which are so important for the island. The budget will be 21 million, of which ten will be provided by the Government (eight of them from European funds), five by the Consell and another five by the City Council. The proximity of the elections has served to finally unblock this project, stuck for 15 years.
Another great announcement made at Fitur is the plan to reconvert mature sun and beach areas reported by the Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto, although the details still need to be known and how it will affect the Pitiusas to be able to assess it in its proper measure.
But well-known storm clouds are also hanging over the season, and they are even more alarming every year: the problem of completing and maintaining staff, especially in hotels (but in general throughout the sector), due to the difficulty in get housing on the islands at an affordable price. The lack of qualified workers makes it difficult and even prevents the proper functioning of companies. Hoteliers admit that they do not know what to do about it, but on the other hand, the tendency to bring forward the opening of accommodation (even in March, most in April) and nightclubs is strengthening.
The long-awaited deseasonalization, extending the season by the extremes, is consolidated year after year, but this good news has its negative side in the serious problem of finding employees. A burden that will grip the sector again next summer, because although the diagnosis is very well done, there is a lack of measures and solutions and a comprehensive approach to the problem, which today represents the greatest threat facing the prosperous Pitiusan economy and the greatest risk to their social cohesion.
This article is originally published on diariodeibiza.es