Susanna Sciacovelli (37) answers our questions in accent-less English and could change immediately to Spanish, German or Dutch. Next to her desk are photos of her two beautiful children. Her projects to take Menorcan horse performances, Mallorcan “Dimonis” (devils) and “Correfocs” (fire runners) to Berlin and Manchester, grabbed attention. In the fading year Ms. Sciacovelli had to perform a task as “fire-extinguisher”.
The year’s performance
What is your evaluation of 2009?
This year was a very difficult one for Mallorca. The economic crisis, terrorist attacks on the island, and cases of swine flu reported excessively in the German media, damaged tourism. In spite of all this, I believe that the main reason for fewer visitors was reduced spending power caused by the economic crisis.
Are there numbers already out for 2009?
We have an estimated of 8 per cent tourists reduction compared to 2008.
Can less mass tourism also be a positive sign?
No. I want as many people as possible to spend their holidays here. Everybody is welcome – also at the Ballermann and in Magaluf. Many families and singles love Mallorca’s traditional fun tourism, so we should keep it. We don’t have to ballyhoo it anymore, but 80 per cent of the Balearic economy derives from tourism.
IBATUR response to the crisis
Will you repeat promotional stands like Berlin and Manchester?
Of course, because direct customer contact produces miracles. We want to go to Paris, to strengthen the French market – there’s only one direct flight connection so far. The message is that we have much more than sun and beach.
A kind of ´blow up´ strategy?
We stress what’s on offer that’s underestimated and less well-known. “Mallorca – mucho más que playa” (Mallorca – much more than beach) is written on billboards. Thus an important by-product like golf gains prominence. We put these billboards in Britain, Germany and the Spanish peninsula, in respective languages.
Isn’t it possible there’ll be duplication in advertising with Fomento or the insular council´s tourism department?
No, because the allocation of tasks is clear. We’re part of the Balearic Government, to promote all the islands and act abroad. Our presence at annual tourism fair ITB in Berlin is an important example. Fomento and Consell concentrate on Mallorca, the Cort (town hall) on Palma city.
Rafael Nadal receives 9 million euros for three years’ promotion of the Balearics.
He’s worth it – as one of the world’s best tennis players, He originates from here, gives us authenticity. With him, the French Open and Wimbledon became promotional venues. TV advertisements featuring him, broadcast in the UK and Germany between January and March (when these people tend to book their summer holiday), are highly effective.
Mallorca at its best
What’s the island’s best?
Mallorca is a European market leader in summer tourism with ten million visitors per annum. In spite of that, environmental protection is also exemplary. Mallorca already has a year-round season, which just needs to be well communicated. In winter there’s a huge range of activities: cycling, golf, sailing, trekking, hiking, Nordic walking, wellness, and culture. More and more companies are coming here for meetings and incentive programmes.
What can be improved?
Well the size of the advertising budget. Ibatur gets 24 million euros per year – to promote beach, golf, nautical, cultural, nature and meetings. That’s a small amount, for the Balearics as a rich region in Spain obtains less transfer payments. Andalusia, for example, has access to 98 million euros, to use for superb TV advertising campaigns. We also need a higher budget to improve our internet presence and lots more. Golf deserves more attention. Our slogan “Mallorca – the Golf Island” represents the 23 golf courses, which are all less than an hour’s car journey from Palma. This density is unique in Europe.
Some experts say golf is too expensive in Mallorca.
That’s an image problem. In Andalusia green fees are often higher. An average of 90 euros is o.k. for the island. What we really need are better packages with the tour operators, with golf and hotel as fixed components. Under my presidency the first official budget for golf promotion was approved – this speaks volumes.
Mallorca’s Image Abroad
What are the respective images of the islands?
Mallorca is the place of boundless holiday possibilities; Ibiza stands for party tourism; Menorca for peaceful family holidays, Formentera for its nature and endless dream beaches.
Mallorca´s “Sol y Playa” image seems strongly defined.
But it’s already changed a lot. Even many Germans know that Mallorca offers a broad range of tourism. We want to address customers by areas of interest and not by nationality. Indeed, every island needs its very own brand image.
Let’s get personal
Which are your favorite places in the Balearics?
As a governmental representative I have to be impartial. But I want to emphasize how glad I am to live in Mallorca. It’s a privilege. With my family I’m a holiday regular in Formentera, a wonderful island with an almost virgin spirit.
How long will you do this job?
This is a political appointment, thus I’m connected to the current Balearic government, which will be in charge until 2011. If the PSOE wins the upcoming elections I might stay for another four years. Continuity of project planning would benefit Ibatur.
You’re the first foreigner and non-Mallorcan appointed to Ibatur presidency – a surprise.
Yes, I didn’t expect the nomination. Tourism minister Nadal Buades wanted someone from an international background with private sector work experience. Seemingly I’m predestined: an Italian, who grew up in the Netherlands, and has worked in Germany and New York. Besides, I know the Spanish tourism industry through my former management role with Air Europe.
What do you enjoy doing outside of office hours?
I tend to go sailing as often as possible. We have the greatest regattas in Mallorca. I also have golf lessons and, above all, I dedicate a lot of time to my family.
Tourism Department of the Balearic Islands
Calle Montenegro 5 – Palma
Tel. +34 971 177 150 +34 971 177 150
Fax +34 971 177 155
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