The first important project of the recently founded civic institute for tourism (IMTUR) is the campagne “Palma 365”. The main objective of the campaign is to develop new offers for tourism and to animate the low season. In order to promote “Palma 365” and to make it known to a wide audience IMTUR is cooperating with private companies and federations who are providing logistics and financial means and are in return profiting from the professional, wide-spread public relation work done by IMTUR. Francisca Bennasar Tous holds the most important position within IMTUR as the president of the “Consell Rector”. Mrs Bennasar, all the threads of tourism planning for the city of Palma come together in your hands.
How did you get this responsible task?
In the course of my political career I once was a Member of the European Parliament. It was part of my job to travel a lot all over Europe to learn how other countries organized their tourism sectors, especially the cities. I think you first get to know a country through its cities. Therefore I wanted to concern myself with the tourism of Palma. I like Palma and I know Palma very well.
What is Palma’s significance for the Balearic tourism?
Palma takes on an important role as the demands in tourism are changing. The kind of tourism that concentrates on sun and beaches still exists. But we know that there is also a great request for alternatives. People have altered their holiday habits, and instead of going on holiday once a year they fragment their holidays and go on several shorter trips. Consequently music, art, culture, and gastronomy become more and more important. Palma offers all this and more, such as sports, golf, and nautical facilities. Indeed, a lot of things are moving and developing in Palma today.
What is behind your campaign “Palma 365”?
It has been a long way to where I’m standing today. When we were thinking about the goals we wanted to achieve in tourism in Palma we looked for a slogan and found “Palma 365”.
Because we are sure that Palma as a city offers fun and entertainment all year round. In winter for instance we have the Fiestas de San Sebastian or the Fiestas de los Reyes, our symphony orchestra, the museums and the numerous shops that make shopping in Palma so enjoyable. The campaign is based on four central topics: the cultural Palma, Palma and its shops, Palma as a place to spend your holidays and the nautical Palma. Detailed information is available on each of those topics. IMTUR was founded only about a year ago.
Why does Palma need a municipal institute for tourism?
Because we believe that tourism is a flourishing branch of economy where the private sector plays a crucial role. Therefore we have to make sure that the private sector grows and thrives.
Quality as a plan? What does that mean in practice?
In cooperation with the central government we are launching a project called ” integrated system for quality in the tourism sector”. It starts here, with our institution and the city council, and we offer it to all companies that would like to join in. They then get a consultant to help them with their external presentation and for their internal fields they are given a compendium containing exercises. We are not a critical institution. We only want to help the companies to improve their services. The quality we are now working on all over Mallorca can only be achieved when we work on it in detail.
And what is the aim of your plan for more quality?
One purpose of our plan for more quality is to make companies volunteer to take part in the plan. We go all the way with them. It is a chain reaction. That is important because with just one element breaking ranks visitors do not feel at ease. We provide support and try to enthuse people for our ideas. Quite an effort for many smaller companies.
What do they get in return?
Public promotion. We present in important exhibitions and in selected cities Palma as a city for holidays, culture, sports, and congresses. These are the four columns of our house called “Palma Tourism”.
Which projects for the house “Palma Tourism” bear the stamp of “IMTUR”?
We have got lots of things going in Palma. There is for instance the park & ride project for all those that rather leave their car in the car-park. We can offer 50 to 60 bikes that are well made use of. Then there is our shopping guide in six languages combining a shopping tour with typically local matters. It is a handy booklet, which describes four commercial routes plus a small map with interesting points. This is no advertising, but we inform about places of tradition with a high regard for good quality. We are deeply involved in a project in Can Pastilla. We intend to put an emphasis on surfing to bring a Californian touch to the beach of Can Pastilla. Surf Action is an event with various surfing activities and concerts on the beach. There are also a number of excellent new restaurants there. This year we start a pilot project, which we are going to expand to other beaches under the motto of active beach life and summer in the city. At „Palma Culture” we cooperate with all the cultural institutions such as museums, galleries, the Castillo de Bellver. We prepare various events including a nice surprise here and there. We plan to make the Castillo de Bellver the location for the magic nights of Palma in July and August.
The great event of Palma’s sporting activities will be the Copa del Rey celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. We want to celebrate this occasion in the Castillo de Bellver. Important regattas are a great attraction for our tourists. A special project is under way at the moment aiming at a facelift for the terraces of bars and cafeterias so that everything looks nice and tidy with identical awnings and pretty furniture.
Are the owners to pay for that?
Not in Calle Antonio Maura. These bars have already had heavy losses by the road works so the property developer will give them awnings and accessories for their terraces as a compensation.
And what are the plans for Palma as a congress city? Palma has already been an important congress city for many years, long before the new congress centre became a topic. The new congress centre will meet the growing demand for conference space and will be an additional facility to the existing locations such as the Auditorium, the Pueblo Español, or the Sala Victoria. It was not easy to find the right site for the new congress centre, but now we are happy with Patxi Mangado’s concept. Palma is to be a venue for the incentives of companies.
How many people work on that many projects?
We are 20 altogether and we work a lot. I like working in a team. They are all well-trained people that speak several languages. Everybody has got his responsibilities. I give them a lot of space for decisions and we do a lot of brainstorming.
So IMTUR is not dependent on the next elections?
The idea behind IMTUR is independent of the government. The people working at IMTUR are no politicians. Only I am a politician, but – with or without me – the internal structure is independent of any party. We are responsible for the information in our town. In summer we expand our information office with mobile information points. There is also a virtual office to answer phone calls and e-mails. Whoever has a question, gets an answer – from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Three people attend in four languages. Then there is our up-todate website as we want to make use of new technologies as well. My personal motto is: I only do the things that I am good at. Good projects may take their time to do them well and to find the right experts to help.