Danger! The ammis are coming. Thousands of Americans are expected in Mallorca this season. The reasons for the increase in holidaymakers from overseas: there have been direct flights between New York and Palma de Mallorca since June, and the cruise ship “Wonder of the Seas” now docks in the island’s port every Monday. Mallorca is opening up more and more to the North American market.
In an interview with FOCUS online, tourism expert Moritz Lindner, managing director and founder of “reisetopia”, explains how “Malle” is changing as a result, what that means for the tourism industry and what consequences this has for the summer vacation of Germans.
FOCUS online: Mr. Lindner, thousands of Americans are already expected in Mallorca this season. Will there be a rush?
Moritz Lindner: In fact, I would not overestimate the direct flight that has existed since last year. United Airlines is the only airline that offers a direct flight from the USA, specifically from New York, to Mallorca. And this only in the summer timetable, i.e. from June to the end of September. It is therefore a limited period.
In addition, United Airlines “only” flies a Boeing 767-300 aircraft. We’re talking about 210 passengers per flight and only three times a week. That makes a maximum of 15,000 vacationers in each direction, even with almost perfect occupancy throughout the season. So it’s limited. This will not overwhelm the island.
Are Ballermann tourists coming to the island or are they mostly luxury vacationers?
Lindner: As is usual with Americans on long-haul routes, it is more holidaymakers who move in the high-quality segment. On the one hand, this is due to the airline’s aircraft itself. It is equipped with a relatively large number of premium seats for a classic holiday route. Of the almost 210 seats, 30 are in business class, 24 in premium class and a further 46 in economy plus class. And the prices for these flights from New York alone are almost always 1,000 euros return in Economy Class.
Americans in Mallorca: “Holidaymakers who are in the luxury segment definitely come here”
Seems like Americans will have more vacation pay to spend.
Lindner: There is an evaluation from 2021 that shows that Americans spend an average of 1800 euros in Mallorca. The average tourist spends 1200 euros on the island. Only the journey as such was considered, regardless of the number of days.
This is an important point that makes the level even clearer: Americans have significantly less vacation time on average and spend significantly more per night. So that 1800 euros was spent in far fewer days than the average tourist’s 1200 euros. Holidaymakers who are in the luxury segment definitely come here.
How does this opening of the market to North America change tourism on the island?
Lindner: Here it is interesting to look into the history of the island. Many decades ago, Mallorca focused significantly more on higher-quality tourism. It was not until the 1960s and 1970s that the market opened up more to the masses.
I keep hearing from the hoteliers on Mallorca that they want to get away from this image as a cheap market – like Magaluf for the British or the Ballermann for the Germans – and want to move more towards luxury tourism, towards more high-quality tourism. I believe that it will be precisely the development that the increased American tourism will bring with it.
If you book 4 or 5 stars, you have to be prepared for significantly higher prices
And the American tourist is obviously very solvent. So will the island soon be unaffordable for German tourists?
Lindner: German holidaymakers who are interested in the higher quality segment, i.e. booking a 4-star or 5-star hotel or a very high-quality holiday home, must be prepared for the fact that prices will rise significantly due to the stronger influence of the Americans. This effect can also be clearly seen on the Italian islands, where in the summer, when the Americans come, prices are very, very high.
This also affects the moderate price level, because of course there is a certain downward pressure. The best examples are Sardinia, Sicily or Santorini in Greece. Here the prices have risen significantly, among other things due to the Americans, primarily in the luxury segment, but also secondarily for hotels in the medium to above-average price level or general accommodation as well as rental cars or transfer.
What is spared from the America Effect? Does Ballermann stay the way he is?
Lindner: I see rather small changes in flight prices, for example. These are rather independent of American tourism and have already increased in recent years. And I wouldn’t see such a big effect on the classic, inexpensive Ballermann vacation. Individual tourism is certainly more affected.
What does the visit from America mean for travel agencies and hoteliers?
Lindner: This is all good news for hoteliers in the first place because they can sell the same product for a higher price. In comparison, the hotel industry in the USA in the higher quality segment tends to offer less service than on Mallorca or in Europe in general.
Conversely, this means that the hoteliers do not have such an insanely great need to change something in the offer. Many are already international. So there aren’t that big of a difference locally.
It will certainly be more difficult for tour operators who have a European market as they have to deal with rising prices on the island. This can lead to difficult negotiations when organizers have to buy their contingent for the whole year, especially when it comes to availability in the popular high season.
“Especially in June, July, August and September you have to be prepared for the fact that it gets very expensive in Mallorca”
A look into the future: what further developments do you expect? Are the Americans now taking their 17th federal state away from the Germans?
Lindner: The Americans will not completely overrun Mallorca now. Last year, in July and August alone, more than a million Germans were in Mallorca and at the same time over 700,000 Brits. And in relation to that: In the whole of 2022 there were 170,000 Americans. So it’s not as if the entire market will change rapidly. The markets, which are preferred by the Americans, are also only heavily frequented seasonally.
But: Especially in the summer months of June, July, August and September, when there are holidays in Germany, you have to be prepared for the fact that it can get very expensive in Mallorca and we will increasingly see effects, such as in Sardinia, Sicily or in southern France. And you can certainly be a little afraid of that in the next few years. Even with a normal salary, you can hardly afford to go on vacation in these regions in the peak months at a slightly higher level.