The Balearic government has formally approved the transfer of responsibilities for tourism promotion to the island councils. Because of this, it is understood that functions of the Balearic Tourism Agency (ATB) are to be reduced and its principal responsibility will be for managing projects funded by the tourist tax.
The Council of Majorca has been preparing for this transfer by recruiting senior staff, which is a key reason why its budget for personnel is to go up. The budget for tourism in 2018 will be 4.4 million euros plus a further one million allocated to the Majorca Tourism Foundation, which will be the entity that is responsible for tourism promotion.
Cosme Bonet, the councillor for economic affairs who speaks on tourism matters, says that this financial provision is good, adding that it is now also the time to be talking about taking on powers for tourism organisation and regulation. The other island councils already have these powers.
As far as promotion is concerned, Bonet explains that the aims will be to strengthen the "Majorca brand" and to change the island's image and tourism model by moving it away from predominantly sun and beach. Speaking at the hoteliers' conference for overseas tourism markets, he stressed the necessity of adding value to the medium and low seasons. Promotional efforts will therefore focus on these. As such, they will follow the strategy of the Balearic tourism ministry.
The government, through what remains of the tourism agency, will still provide the "umbrella" for general tourism policy, but the whole status of tourism as a ministerial function is now coming under some debate. Biel Barceló is suggesting that the next government, one after the 2019 election, will need to decide whether to maintain the tourism ministry or combine it with another ministry.
There are conflicting messages being given about the ongoing role of the ATB. Indeed there are questions as to why it will be needed, notwithstanding a function of managing tourist tax projects, which itself is a questionable necessity. It will be required in the short term as the exact timing of the transfer of tourism promotion responsibilities has yet to be determined; this will, however, be before April 2018. A successor to Pere Muñoz, who resigned as the agency's director two weeks ago, is expected to be announced in the next few days.
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