Ibiza to rely on its “powerful brand” to avoid British drop at the London Tourist Fair. Meanwhile the Leisure association of Ibiza will host their own stand for the first time, aimed at the promotion of Ibiza’s music & clubbing sector.

Editorial Comment – Nick Gibbs

World Travel market

The London FITUR tourist trade fair, known as the world travel market, is considered one of, if not the, most important in the annual European calendar. It takes place from November 5th to 7th.

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Ibiza have outlined their own attendance plans and objectives. At the same time they have countered the fears of some in a drop in British business, stating that Ibiza is the only part of Spain NOT experiencing a drop in British business in the face of cost competition from Turkey, Egypt and others.

Quality Tourism & Winter Tourism

Ibiza’s delegation will focus on the promotion of ‘quality all year tourism’.

The seasonal aspects of the ambition is defined in wanting to attract more tourism in the winter months.

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However, despite using the term ‘quality’ throughout their statements, the consell fail to give any definition as to what is perceived to fulfill that quality threshold.

Perhaps economic, 4 star and above to fill the greater ration of luxury beds in Ibiza’s reforming hotels? Possibly academic, those interested in exploring the island’s culture and heritage? Demographic, an unstated profile of traveller age, family composition etc? Or perhaps the definition of quality simply denotes somebody that will not be drunk on arrival? We are left to make our own assumptions.

Confused & Conflicted

The Consell’s statements are as confused and conflicted as you would expect from a body in the grips of confusion and conflict, at least as far as the British market is concerned.

On the one hand they speak with pride and optimism at brand Ibiza’s strength in bucking a general Spanish downturn in British business, but on the other hand they make no admission or recognition that it is exactly the British market they want to disassociate themselves from that maintains Ibiza’s strength with the British market.

But we have to accept that even if they know it and wanted to say it, they couldn’t. It would be political suicide. Even if there were an Ibiza politician who wanted to stand up and say, “thank our lucky stars for Ibiza’s clubbing market and the loyalty of the British market to it. It is exactly that which puts us in better stead than our mainland counterparts to fight off price competition from the emerging markets”, they couldn’t do so and expect to survive.

So we are left in this weird self delusion with the politicians taking the credit for the continued success of Ibiza in the British market, and putting that success sown to Ibiza’s unique offer in its rich culture and history.

Don’t get me wrong, Ibiza does have a rich culture and history, and we know from feedback of the inclusion of Ibiza’s history etc in our tourist editions this year that people are genuinely interested when they arrive. But a reason for wanting to come here in the first place? Come on, marginal at best.

So I am left wondering what the objective really is. Ibiza will be promoting itself as a destination that bares no resemblance to the imagined island of the majority of its visitors. Is that known and accepted by the politicians who are just going through the motions they feel they have to in pacifying their electors at home? Are they whispering secret desires of ‘send us your party people’ behind closed doors?

It seems that the leisure sector itself does not want to leave its promotion to Ibiza’s official tourism mouthpiece. They have decided to host their own stand at this year’s fair.

Influence

The trade shows are where destinations are looking to influence the tour companies who send them tourists.

Ibiza has been on its re-branding mission for several years now. The perception of what Ibiza is in the collective consciousness is so hard wired, the re-branding mission would be a lot harder than most other destinations.

The pre-existing perception of brand Ibiza means that few people are likely to feel they need the guidance of a tour operator to decide what kind of place Ibiza is, but in so far as the Ibiza tourist board’s efforts are concerned, the evidence of their success in their Ibiza re-branding mission may perhaps best be judged by the tour operator’s own descriptions of Ibiza. So I took a look around.

Jet2.com

“Glamorous and edgy all at once, Ibiza is a clubber’s heaven, especially 24-hour party places like Ibiza Town and San Antonio. But it’s got its softer side, too – the north of the island is full of secret coves and hills coated in lush, rich-green pine trees.”

https://www.jet2holidays.com/destinations/balearics/ibiza

TUI

“Holidays to Ibiza might be mainly associated with nightlife, but that’s only one chapter in the island’s story. Its sleepy villages, pretty beaches and UNESCO-protected old town aren’t to be missed.”

https://www.tui.co.uk/destinations/europe/spain/ibiza/holidays-ibiza.html

Thomas Cook

“When you think of this hugely popular destination then we’re pretty sure that clubbing is the first thing that comes to mind. But there’s so much more to an Ibiza holiday than thumping nightclubs and rowdy foam parties. The coastline is dotted with pretty coves and sandy bays in the like of Santa Eulalia, along with lush pine forests and charming whitewashed villages; and of course, you’ll find legendary nightlife in sunny resorts like Playa d’en Bossa.”

https://www.thomascook.com/holidays/spain/balearic-islands/ibiza/

Booking.com

“Even though it’s famous for fantastic clubbing, Ibiza is so much more and makes a surprisingly good family destination. Booking.com’s range of apartments, B&Bs and hotels in Ibiza cover all kinds of holiday. The main nightlife is centred around San Antonio, where superclubs Es Paradis and Eden only kick off after midnight. Playa d’en Bossa also has amazing clubs including Space which attracts big-name DJs year after year. (the booking.com description does then go on to extol the virtues of Ibiza’s north)”

expedia.com

“Bars, pool parties and mega-clubs playing thumping music into the small hours of the morning – yes, Ibiza is still the ultimate party destination. What many people don’t know, though, is that the island also has a quiet side, with hotels scattered throughout historic towns and found in idyllic spots located along the coast.”

So is the message getting through? Well Jet2 are the UKs biggest operator to Ibiza. Describing Ibiza as a ‘clubber’s heaven’, and anywhere in it as a ’24 party place’, has made me feel quite nostalgic. It doesn’t sound like booking.com have ever been here, and all of the rest still include reference to Ibiza’s clubbing reputation. OK it is often now written as an almost apologist entry, a re-write of the ‘clubbing capital of the world’ that went before, but that is as far as it has gone.

In our recent interview Jet2 boss Steve Heapy said it was possible to change the tourist perception of Ibiza but that doing so would take time. If this is as far as we have got in the several years effort to date it would seem it will take a very, very, long time.

Elephant in the Room

There is one point notable by its absence in all of the Tourist Board’s statements relating to Ibiza Tourism. The All Inclusive market. I cannot help thinking that whatever they have written down on their clipboards to promote, be it sporting Ibiza, winter Ibiza, cultural Ibiza, sober Ibiza, top of the tour companies’ questions will be our intentions as to the all inclusive market.

No one in the Room

Ibiza states chief among its ambitions at the London fair as developing winter tourism. This is something that will seem baffling to many. Though there are many in Ibiza who would give their support to developing winter business, indeed we have been campaigning for such since the 60s – see Ibiza insight below – it is difficult to comprehend exactly what they will be offering.

46 Years Ago This Week - Ibiza insight from October 1972.  Priced at 10 pesatas the cover photo beauty contest caption reads “this week two lovely holidaymakers are selected from a bevy of beauties …”.  The main news story talks of the importance of extending the summer season tourist trade into the winter months
46 Years Ago This Week – Ibiza insight from October 1972. Priced at 10 pesatas the cover photo beauty contest caption reads “this week two lovely holidaymakers are selected from a bevy of beauties …”. The main news story talks of the importance of extending the summer season tourist trade into the winter months

We have extremely limited direct flights from the UK in the winter. If tourists can get here there are very few hotels open to accommodate them.  If they find a way to get here and somewhere to stay, they may find themselves in an area of Ibiza that has more the feel of a pre-glasnost soviet state than a holiday destination.

The point is that the winter season business problem is one that cannot be solved by any single measure. And that is why it has always been such an impossible nut to crack. You can’t get tourists without flights, accommodation and at least some local activity. You can’t get accommodation without tourists and flights. You can’t get flights without tourists and accommodation.

So it is very difficult to see what the Consell are offering the British market. Unless they have done some deals we don’t know about in having all other factors in place ready to take an influx of winter tourists, and they haven’t, exactly what is it they are trying to sell the UK market? It is a product which does not exist.

Summary

So at the most important tourist trade fair of the year, Ibiza has ….

  • An established tourism product (clubbing / youth) we are unwilling to mention let alone promote.
  • An established tourism product (all inclusive) we have decided to ban.
  • A required tourism standard (quality) we have not defined.
  • A main tourism product for promotion (winter) that does not exist.
  • A reliance on a notion of Brand Ibiza that is self delusional at best.

Confused and conflicted? Give them their due, you can’t get much more authentic Ibiza than that.