Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Menorca Holidays Shake, Rafa and Roll

Not since the days of Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe has the world of tennis been as exciting as it is today, as Rafa Nadal from Spain's Balearic Islands and Switzerland's Roger Federer make the game watchable to a mass audience again.

The numbers 1 and 2 in the world produced what was widely described by sports journalists around the world as Wimbledon's finest men's final in a generation last July where Nadal triumphed, and then in early February this year the two produced a pulsating final lasting over four hours in another Grand Slam event - the Australian Open. Again Rafa Nadal was victorious.

Upon returning home to the Balearic Islands after his Wimbledon triumph last summer - the Balearics are made up of Rafa's home island of Majorca, along with Menorca and Ibiza - Rafa was given a hero's welcome, and the island came to a standstill for the day as celebrations carried on from dawn to the early hours of the next morning.

Before Rafa's rise to the top of the tennis world, The Balearic Islands have been best known in the wider world as prime holiday destinations - Menorca for example is known as a quiet family holidays island, and with flights to Menorca under two hours from London has become a favourite for the British holidaymaker since the early 70's.

But with a recession hitting Menorca's main holiday markets of Britain and Germany, the tourist authorities for the islands have come up with a stroke a world class tennis player would be proud of - they have signed Rafa Nadal up to promote Menorca as a holidays destination to the British and German publics, and be the recognisable face for their holiday marketing activities.

'Rafa is an instantly recognisable symbol of something positive', comments leading Menorca travel site yourmenorca.net, 'And associating Menorca with someone as dynamic and successful as Rafa Nadal could help the island attract more tourists at a time it really needs it.'


Of all the islands in the Balearics, Menorca is known as one for family holidays. Quiet, sedate, peaceful are words often used to describe Menorca and Menorca holidays.

But as well as promoting Menorca as a reminder to past visitors to holiday on the island again, it's quite possible that Rafa Nadal's image among the population as a whole in both Germany and the UK could be enough for new generations to consider taking holidays in Menorca for the first time - something the island would welcome as once people take a trip to Menorca they often return and count the island as one of their top holiday destinations to consider for future years.

British visitors, an important constituent of Menorca tourism, have been hit by the strength of the Euro against Sterling, and Menorca holidays are more expensive than holiday destinations which don't have the euro - Turkey in particular has seen a big jump in British tourists, and outside of Europe Egypt and Morocco have benefitted too at the expense of traditional favourite Spain - in 2008 Spain experienced a drop of a million holidaymakers compared to the year before.

And while the island will still be seen as peaceful compared to some holiday destinations, it will be determined to keep that as part of the appeal that has attracted holidaymakers in the past. But new companies are also springing up among the Menorca holidays businesses that will appeal to those first time Menorca visitors who might want a little activity - and might expect it too considering Rafa Nadal's image. One new company is offering escorted mountain bike tours, while another is offering jeep safaris - perfect for the younger generation of tourists Menorca would like to see return in future years.

The new companies providing the tourist facilities will be welcomed by the Menorca hotels too. Menorca hoteliers have invested heavily in recent years, refurbishing existing hotels while a few new ones have been added too. But if occupancy rates drop this year there is a possibility that some Menorca hotels will open just for June, July and August, while others may be mothballed until the number of visitors increases again.

The holiday island will be hoping a bit of Rafa's magic will persuade holidaymakers to head their way this year.

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