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Ten million pictures of Palma were uploaded and tagged on social media in July 2017, using the free Wi-Fi that covers the city

Another initiative helping tourists discover more of the city is a new catalogue of emblematic shops published in January. To qualify for inclusion – and tax benefits – shops have to meet three criteria: they have to have been in business for 75 years, they have to be housed in a historic property, and they have to be a family-run concern.

Homar says: “This is vital to preserve the personality of the city. In the past year alone, three new Starbucks have opened in Palma. They are franchises owned by locals and it is a free market, but we lose when a percentage of the profits go to [US-owned] Starbucks.”

City break success

Palma was the second most popular Spanish cruise port in 2017 with 1.7 million arrivals (after Barcelona with 2.2m)

Since 2012, Palma’s tourism strategy has been focused on growing the city break market. This master plan enabled the city to compete with the likes of Porto, Lisbon and Valencia and extend its tourism proposition into the low and mid-season months of October to April.

It was a bold move – considering hoteliers had to change their model of operation to stay open year-round. But six years down the line a steady increase in both room nights and revenue proves it was a smart move. Room nights increased 8% between October 2016 and April 2017 compared with the same period 12 months earlier.

“The strategy is working – absolutely,” says Homar. “Our connectivity, which was limited in 2012, has increased heavily in the past five years, particularly in the low season. had 32,000 seats to Palma this winter.

“We’ve also upgraded the quality of our hotels – we now have 21 five-star service-focused boutique hotels in historic buildings. One hotel, Sant Francesc, was advertising rates of €225 per night in February, which indicates the demand for this style of property.

“A year ago we carried out market research with 12,000 visitors, mainly European, and 98% said they would recommend Palma as a city break destination. Now we want to consolidate this model and not lose focus – which is why we are working with four Michelin-star chefs to promote our gastronomy offer in key markets.”

Cruise drives return visits from niche markets

“Hotels are reporting a small increase in American guests,” says Homar. “The first time they come here is on a cruise and then they return for a longer stay as part of a multi-centre European holiday, flying in from Madrid or Barcelona. It’s the same with the Japanese market. We’re not doing anything to attract these nationalities, but now I’m starting to speculate – should we be doing something in those US cities that have direct connections with Spain?”

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