The 45th edition of ITB Berlin closed on Sunday night with excellent participation and many happy faces at the Menorcan booth: according to current estimations, the island might receive up to 50% more German tourists this summer than in 2010. “Everything suggests that we are going to have a pretty good season with regard to the German market”, commented the Island Councillor for Tourism, Lázaro Criado, “the tour operators do not hesitate to describe this year as a revolution.” In line with this trend, both travel trade professionals and consumers received Menorca’s presentation at ITB Berlin with great interest.
Criado identified various factors which contribute to the dynamic recovery of the German source market. First and foremost, the country’s economic situation is quite promising: with a predicted GDP growth in excess of 3%, the country has clearly left the recession behind. This, in turn, encourages consumer spending and results in earlier holiday bookings than recently. Moreover, several tour operators have launched marketing campaigns promoting Menorca as a holiday destination. Finally, the recent political unrest in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as the fear that uprisings might start in other holiday countries, is also contributing to an increase of bookings in the Balearic Islands.
Experts, however, consider this factor to be of secondary importance: the recovery of bookings for the 2011 season started prior to the beginning of the political unrest. Commenting on tourism in Mallorca – which is also recording a significant growth in bookings – the Balearic Islands Councillor for Tourism, Joana Barceló, said in an interview, “The crisis in North Africa may have contributed to a slight increase of bookings, but in any case only has a short-term impact. The improved booking situation for Mallorca had already become apparent by the World Travel Market in London last November, thus long before these events.”
Tunisia and Egypt
Local professionals present at Berlin confirmed that tourism in Tunisia and Egypt has come to a virtual standstill due to the recent turmoil. “Today, the tourism is completely resting”, wrote the Tunisian travel trade gazette ‘Tourisme Info’ in a special issue distributed at ITB, while ‘EGY.news’ confirmed that “admittedly, Egypt’s tourism sustained losses. The decline in the number of tourists and in revenues will be unavoidable this year”. Both countries, however, left little doubt that they will go to great length in order to restore their previous positions as holiday countries for the European source market.
Egypt’s rather stark presentation turned into a highlight of the 2011 ITB fair and received massive attention from the German and international media present in Berlin. Within record time the Egyptian Tourism Board had adapted its marketing and launched a completely new image campaign which was officially introduced in the ITB Berlin. Centred around slogans such as “Welcome to the country of the peaceful revolution”, “7,000 years of history and a new era” or “The Online Revolution – Made in Egypt”, it promotes the ‘peaceful revolution’ of 25th January.
Egypt’s new Minister of Tourism, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, visited the ITB Berlin on his first trip abroad. The Minister confirmed that his country had not received foreign visitors in February, but added that he hoped for their return as from March. “Tourism will be back to previous levels sooner than expected”, Abdel Nour said. He is confident that the overall statistics in 2011 will be equal to those of 2010 when Egypt received 14.2 million tourists.
As a further step in his country’s efforts to regain its previous market position, the Minister signed an agreement making Egypt the partner country of the next ITB Berlin in March 2012.
“A challenge for Menorca”
Their dynamic presentation in Berlin left little doubt that Tunisia and Egypt are going to remain strong competitors for Europe’s Mediterranean holiday countries. Not least with regard to this competitive environment, Menorca’s Tourism Councillor Lázaro Criado considers the promising perspectives for 2011 “as a challenge for Menorca, since we must do everything possible to maximise the satisfaction of our guests, utilise this year’s opportunity to turn them into loyal customers and thus ensure the sustainability of our tourism industry.”