UK Ambassador to Spain meets in Palma with Executive Vice President and CEO of Meliá
Simon Manley, accompanied by Lloyd Milen, Consul General, shared impressions on the tourist situation with Gabriel Escarrer, leader of the first Spanish hotel company.
In a new sample of the interest that has always maintained the British Government for tourism from the United Kingdom to our country, and especially to the Balearic Islands, the highest diplomatic representation of the United Kingdom in Spain yesterday visited the headquarters of Meliá Hotels International, one of the largest Spanish tourism companies, and with great roots in areas traditionally heavily visited by English tourism, such as Palmanova or Magaluf, in Mallorca.
The meeting, contextualized on this occasion by the uncertainty created around Brexit, took place in a very constructive tone, in which the diplomatic representatives expressed their willingness to reach a reasonable agreement that will allow them to “get down to work” to implement the contingency plans they have been developing, with companies and the Spanish Administrations.
Both parties agreed on some critical aspects, such as the need to reduce as much as possible the obstacles for travellers (in the form of visas or the collapse of airports due to customs procedures) on which the respective Spanish and British governments would already be working.
For his part, Gabriel Escarrer recalled “from the utmost respect for the decision of the British people” that the result of the 2016 referendum “overwhelmed” and saddened him, and was particularly concerned about the employment situation that will be left community workers currently providing services in hotels that the Group has in the United Kingdom (4 in operation and 2 more scheduled to open in 2020).
Manley stressed the British government’s desire to “normalise” the situation as much as possible in order to facilitate labour relations for European citizens in the United Kingdom and allow the country to continue to attract the best talent “regardless of nationality”.
The Ambassador insisted that European companies have a great responsibility in reassuring and adequately informing their workers in the United Kingdom, and both parties recognised the importance of proposing a joint position and action to the British Authorities, from business forums such as the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom, of which Meliá is a member.
Manley and Escarrer also addressed a different issue, but of maximum interest to both, as is the improvement of the tourism model of Magaluf, in which the hotel has invested more than 250 million euros in recent years, and the quality and civility of British tourism younger in various destinations in the Balearic Islands.
After reviewing the significant progress made, they recalled that there are still outstanding challenges on the part of the “supply”, such as the survival of some hotels and local (albeit in a residual number) focused on offering alcohol at very low prices or in all-inclusive regime, and the intensification of police control and implementation of ordinances to prevent the illegal and disorderly supply at the destination.
On the “demand” side, the Embassy has been working for years with the Balearic and local authorities (Calviá City Council) as well as with companies such as the Tour Operators and the Hotel Association in the areas of prevention and education, with very significant results. Mallorca and especially Palmanova-Magaluf have always been preferred destinations for tourism from the United Kingdom, which today still represents around 22% of total tourism in Mallorca. In Palmanova-Magaluf, the British public represents 47.65%.
Gabriel Escarrer and his team thanked the Ambassador for his efforts and valued the willingness of the British Government to work to “build the new bridges” between Spain and the United Kingdom, allowing tourist flows to continue to grow and develop normally, something that is of “maximum interest” for both countries.