Mallorca 2.0 – A question of identity

Author: José Pons, Director of Development at the IESE Business School, DACH.

What will happen this summer? It is very likely that summer 2021 will be quite similar to summer 2020: mostly empty beaches and hotels. A third lockdown from November 2021 to March 2022 is not ruled out despite the vaccinations. This is going to be a long one.

It is well known that a great source of innovation comes from problem solving. The psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who survived Auschwitz, also said: without problems man does not grow up. If the tourists don’t come, largely because there are no flights, we will have to go and pick them up! 

What do I mean? When you book a flight, it’s common for the airline’s website to offer you a hotel booking or car rental at your destination. Why not think the other way around, what if I could book a flight when I book a hotel, what if the hotel had a guaranteed charter flight I could sign up for?

It is good that we are working on a kind of Marshall Plan for Mallorca. It is very opportune that we think of a “Private-Public-Partnership” of hotel chains together with the local councils to ask for a loan and a bailout from the European Union. I think it is also good for us to think about how we can solve the problem from within, i.e. by ourselves. I know that this is not easy, but rather very painful. I am aware that there are many thousands of families queuing in front of food banks.

I would like to point out that we have been living beyond our means for many decades since the 1960s. Think of the lack of water on the island, the summer blackouts, the excessive number of daily cruise ships in the port of Palma or the collapse of the roads. We have the opportunity to do a “reset” and to think about responsible and sustainable tourism. And while we are at it, let us think about the identity of our island and what kind of tourism we want to be associated with and what kind of tourism we want to discard. 

If we were thinking of promoting our image through a film about Mallorca: What kind of tourism are we looking for, do we have any other “product” than a nice house with sun and by the sea? Let’s bring in a thousand “influencers” to convey an image of a new Mallorca on social media, not from Madeira but from Mallorca.

What is the right balance between mass tourism and individual tourism, what limits should we not exceed? Let us also think about architecture and urban planning, about a better symbiosis of construction with nature. What does it mean to build and live in a sustainable way? Let’s think about new ways of more collaborative farming, about new logistics for the home-workers of the future who would enjoy working from Mallorca rather than from their cold cities in Europe. Can we set up a “Silicon Valley” or an “Innovation-Hub” in Mallorca, couldn’t we do with a greater dose of entrepreneurial spirit? Perhaps with the automatic and routine influx of tourists we have lost our ideas.

All the ideas that come up to overcome this health, economic and social crisis will generate new jobs. This has been stated by the World Economic Forum. How can Mallorca commit itself to a more sustainable, zero-emission world? In the long run this will change the way we consume. We will be willing to pay a little more for more sustainable products. 

Last week I participated in a brainstorming session on the latest social media craze: the Clubhouse app. It’s a kind of on-demand radio where you can select the topic, the broadcasting time and the participants of the debate. The audience appears in a spontaneous way based on listeners’ contacts. In a few moments, some very interesting people came together: Uwe Bahn (the founder of the radio station Inselradio.com), Ilka Karl with her husband Mike (managers of several boutique hotels in Palma), Birgit Unger (editor of the magazine Deluxe Mallorca) and Kertin Honrath, promoter together with Julia Bauer of the portal mallorca-helfen.de which is supplying food banks from Germany, also collecting donations.

In just a few minutes, 50 people gathered: journalists, travel agents, etc. This programme will be “broadcasted” on Fridays every two weeks at 20.30 h on Clubhouse in German (the next one will be on the 5th of March). I invite Mallorcans who know German to join the debate on the identity of Mallorca 2.0. Everyone can contribute ideas. Everyone can be part of the solution.

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