This is how hard the Corona crisis hits the Spanish tourist island

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The holidaymakers are gone, the income too: Mallorca is particularly badly hit by the corona pandemic. But the Island Council is already thinking about tomorrow – and has launched an advertising campaign: “Mallorca is waiting for you”.

The silence is striking. No rattling of cups from the cafes, no multilingual murmurs on the terraces of Mallorca’s capital, which are otherwise installed at every corner. The streets and squares of Palma’s old town are extinct.

The strict curfew that has spanned the whole of Spain for a good two weeks has not only put an end to the hustle and bustle of the locals. In the meantime, the last tourists who spent their holidays here when the emergency was declared have left.

Total failure corresponds to a loss of 1.4 billion euros

How long it takes for the first to return is the big question these days. The virus shows that the island’s great strength is also its greatest weakness. “A large part of our economy depends directly or indirectly on tourism – this makes the Balearic Islands one of the regions of Spain that is most severely affected by the economic consequences of the Corona crisis,” explains economist Antoni Riera.

No passage: the police cordoned off a parking area in the resort of Cala Millor. (Source: dpa / Bodo Marks)No passage: the police cordoned off a parking area in the resort of Cala Millor. (Source: Bodo Marks / dpa)

The professor has calculated how high the losses will be caused by the state-ordered closure of all hotels on the four islands. The figures for March, April and May 2019 served as the basis for the calculation. The total loss therefore corresponds to 1.4 billion euros, which are now missing in the pockets of hoteliers, transport companies and restaurant owners.

Long-lasting fear and greater economy

“Unlike in industrial areas, it will take a lot longer for the economy to get going again: there must be demand again first,” explains Riera. And it is precisely this demand that he does not see coming back so quickly.

He fears that holidaymakers will be afraid of traveling by plane for a long time, and he predicts greater consumer frugality, which will have an impact on the travel budget.

Workers rely on state aid

The daily bread of many Mallorcans depends on this travel budget. The state government estimates that 200,000 workers are affected by short-time work, the UGT union even estimates that 400,000 people, or 80 percent of all workers in the Balearic Islands, will need government aid.

For example, seasonal workers whose contracts are now at stake, self-employed people who are losing their jobs, domestic help whose salaries families can no longer afford in the future – the list, the basementT spokeswoman Ana Köhler enumerates is long.

Hotel owners donated three tons of groceries

Those directly affected include those hotel employees who were only hired at the beginning of March and have now been sent back home. All hotels in Mallorca have been closed since Thursday. 13 hotel owners made a virtue of their need: They donated a total of three tons of perishable food to aid organizations at Playa de Palma, which is popular with German holidaymakers.

Drastic effects: Arenal is considered a cult place on Mallorca. Now all restaurants are closed. (Source: dpa / Clara Margais)Drastic effects: Arenal is considered a cult place on Mallorca. Now all restaurants are closed. (Source: Clara Margais / dpa)

There were also hygiene articles such as toilet paper, which was in high demand these days. The Mallorcan hotel association FEHM also showed solidarity and donated gloves, face masks, rubbing alcohol and shower caps to hospitals.

Hotel “Palma Bay” is now a hospital

In addition to six accommodations for mainland forces, only one hotel is currently open in Palma. The “Palma Bay” at the congress center was converted by the health authorities into an alternative hospital. If the capacities in the hospitals of Mallorca are not sufficient, up to 250 slightly ill patients could now be treated there.

At the moment, it does not appear that this emergency will occur: In a comparison across Spain, the Balearic Islands are at the lower end of the scale in terms of both the number of infected people and the number of deaths. The islands recorded 33 dead, 958 sick and at least 96 patients who are already healthy again on Sunday. The number of new infections has decreased slightly.

Advantages and disadvantages of Mallorca island location

The island location could help to get the virus under control faster than elsewhere. Ferry and flight connections are reduced to an absolute minimum. At Palma’s airport, where the planes land every minute during the high season, there are currently almost a dozen connections to the mainland and to the rest of Europe.

But the advantage of being able to isolate yourself quickly also has the disadvantage of being dependent on the flight connections. “We have only just been working on a new route plan for months, which is now obsolete,” complains Andreu Serra. The Head of Department for Tourism of the Mallorca Island Council admits that the unsafe situation of many airlines can have fatal effects on island tourism.

“Mallorca is waiting for you”

There is still no rethinking in the advertising strategy, which in recent years has only advertised the off-season due to overcrowding in summer. “Maybe this year you have to readjust a little, depending on when the season can actually start. But we still want to position ourselves as a year-round destination that attracts with sport, gastronomy and culture.”

Serra does not share the concerns of economist Antoni Riera about an impending reluctance to travel. “We survived the crisis after September 11, 2001, we will weather this crisis as well.” Bit by bit, the desire to travel will also return to Corona.

The Island Council has just launched an online campaign to care for wanderlust. The motto: “Mallorca is waiting for you as soon as it is all over”. Optimist Serra does not dare to predict exactly when that will be.

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