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Formentera’s message at FITUR: nature lovers, look no further

fitur 2016The doors opened today at Madrid’s International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR), where the Formentera Council was ready to show would-be Spanish tourists the door that forms the heart of the island’s patrimony. By promoting our outdoor attributes, the Council hopes to appeal to Spanish travelers, a group that over the last three years has even begun surpassing Italians in numbers at certain periods of the season. Tourism councillor Alejandra Ferrer explains: «The national market helps us fill out our numbers in the pre- and post-season. It also happens to be the closest one to us geographically and getting away to Formentera for a few days is more feasible for them».

Tomorrow is the day the people of the Balearics celebrate their region – a day known officially as el Dia de les Illes Balears. At 12 noon, CiF president Jaume Ferrer will be joined by the tourism councillor and Carlos Bernús, head of the local tourism advisory board, in giving a presentation on Formentera highlighting the island’s natural and cultural charms. At 1 p.m., Juan Ramón Cobo, chef at the Es Marès hotel, will give a culinary demonstration of a new take on the popular local salad, amanida pagesa. Some fifty media representatives specialized in fine dining and tourism are scheduled to attend both presentations.

Outdoor trails and sport

In an attempt to increase footfall at the Balearic Islands’ stand at FITUR, Formentera reps will be on hand to greet and provide visitors with information on the island’s different outdoor trails and activities. A portion of the stand is dedicated to sport, and information is available about the more than 20 sport meets and trials set to take place during the low season. Together with different cultural events, explained Councillor Ferrer, Formentera’s 2016 activities programme includes over 60 suggestions for fun.

On Saturday visitors to the stand will be treated to a sampling of the famous Pitiüsa pudding flaó. For their part, the Formentera representatives will also have a full schedule of meetings with offices of tourism, websites, magazines and niche media outlets – all with an end toward showing the best of what the island has to offer. The goal is to push promotional campaigns like Discover Formentera in May and October, both of which are devised to attract more visitors before and after summer. New this year is Formentera Astronòmica (28 and 30 October), which takes advantage of scarce light pollution to show off the beauty of Formentera’s night sky.

Pi des Català tower closed January and February

torre des pi des catala interiorThe Pi des Català tower (la torre des Pi des Català) will be closed this month and next to allow holiday time-off for staff. From March the site will be reopened to the public every Saturday morning from ten a.m. to one midday, as was the case in October and December. According to the CiF councillor of patrimony, Susana Labrador, «after seeing the public’s response last summer» – when the tower was open Thursday afternoons from five to seven – «the decision was made to extend public visiting hours into winter, with a slight change». Looking ahead, Councillor Labrador says after the break the intention is «to reopen the tower so more people can continue discovering this important local heritage site».

First tower with access to inside chambers

After a recent remodel, Pi des Català became the first tower on Formentera to allow public visits of its inner chambers. It is classified as a monument on Formentera’s list of cultural heritage sites. Constructed between 1762 and 1763, it is one of four defence towers on the island. Until 1867 the buildings were used both for defence and – more often – as watchtowers.

Twenty-some sport meets planned for Formentera low season

Mitja marato 2015  J.Antonio ArribasThe Formentera Council department of sports has, together with a handful of local sport and fitness clubs, organised some twenty sporting trials and other meets for the low season. Standing out among the different events on this year’s calendar are the footraces, which «attract athletes from around the country and around the world» and whose relevance, according to department head Jordi Vidal, «will only continue to grow in the coming years».

Races

The starting shot will take place 27 February with the Formentera All Round Trail, an event that will have more than 400 participants circling the island by way of the coastline. On March 1st, the Cursa de la Dona will coincide, as in years past, with the local holiday celebrating our autonomous region: Dia de les Illes Balears. The Cursa Pagesa Solidària (literally, the ‘women farmers’ solidarity race’) will be held March 6th. This year’s lighthouse-to-lighthouse footrace (De Far a Far) is scheduled for April 16th and this year will include a special category for Nordic walking. The Half Marathon (la Mitja Marató) – described by Councillor Vidal as the most renowned of the Formentera fitness events – will be held May 14th. Several years ago the event reached its established capacity of 2,400 runners, a self-imposed limit Vidal explained as ensuring «safety and tranquility of all those involved».

Formentera to Run, which in 2016 enters into its eighth year, will be held between May 29th and June 5th. The event is aimed at attracting a different brand of visitor – the active tourist. Councillor Vidal pointed out that runners who participate in Formentera to Run are often drawn by the prospect of spending an entire week on the island. On June 5th the island will celebrate the fourth year of NB Formentera Trail. Then, as the summer season proper draws to a close, the Pujada a la Mola footrace will be held October 12th. Finally, on December 12th, the John Tunks memorial race – la Cursa de la Constitució – turns 36.

Cycling

The councillor of sports also talked about four competitive cycling events on the 2016 programme: Tracks Formentera BTT (February 7th), Trofeu CDE Ciclisme en Ruta Illa de Formentera (March 27th), Copa Illa de Formentera (June 12th) and BTT La Mola (October 23rd). Another important post-season event in 2016 will be the fourth annual Formentera triathlon, scheduled for October 2nd.

Regatte

Councillor Vidal was proud to announce a string of nautical events on this year's sports calendar: the Regatha Ophiusa in May, the Regata trofeu penyal d'Ifac in June and – another event for windsurfers – la Volta a Formentera on September 18th.

New events

Councillor Vidal also announced the creation this year of a new sports trial, scheduled for April 3rd: Duatlon Cross. Other events in the works include an international beach volleyball tournament and an open-water swimming marathon, both in October. Vidal says his department's goal is to make the island more than just a great option for competitions: «Formentera has got an absolutely fantastic climate. That, and many possibilities for contact with the outdoors. We want athletes to see Formentera as a place to come train at the start and end of the season».

Formentera to coastal authority: make new walkways accessible

passareles 03The Formentera Council's office of mobility has contacted the Balearic coastal authority to request  «the removal of architectural barriers in the recently-installed waterfront walkway». The appeal was made by Formentera's councillor of mobility Rafael González in a letter sent today to Gabriel Pastor, director of Coastal Demarcation Baleares.

Resident complaints

The Formentera Council hopes its intervention will help solve a problem which has been reiterated in numerous grievances since December. Resident complaints have taken issue with the «design of the new duckboard footpaths at different locations along the Formentera coastline». The remodelled walkway follows the same path as before but «changes have been made to the height, the angle of inclines and beach access points», González said. The head of mobility noted that ramps at entry points have been replaced by very large steps.

Following receipt of the complaints, the CiF office of mobility ordered a technical report taking stock of the new walkway design. The report mentions «spots where walkers could easily fall distances of more than a metre» and notes other points of «difficult access to beaches, especially for individuals with reduced mobility and families with baby prams».

Positive review of the remodel

Nevertheless, Councillor González gave a positive review of the coastal authority's investment in the Formentera coastline and indicated it «is necessary for the regeneration of the island's dunes». Still, he said Formentera hopes for a solution that can combine «dune regeneration with proper beach access for everyone».

Hence the Council's petition to «eliminate the architectural barriers in the walkways installed in Formentera in the final trimester of 2015». In his letter, Councillor González highlighted the importance of «removing the stairs and barriers that are problematic in the current walkway».

González said the Council is ready to answer any questions on the subject and provide the coastal authority with any additional information. He indicated the Council's willingness to discuss different possible solutions to the problem.

In coming days, Formentera tourism to make its case to countries of Northern Europe

Foto promoció de Formentera a Utrecht copiaAccording to Formentera's tourism advisory board director, Carlos Bernús, over the next week local tourism reps will highlight the island's «family-friendly and nature-loving side» to crowds at three different holiday destination fairs. The goal, he said, is to attract tourists from Northern Europe at the beginning and end of the summer vacation season. «Over the past few years», Bernús pointed out, «these populations have demonstrated a growing interest in our island and are starting to bring increasingly large numbers of tourists along with them».

Formentera shares an informational stand at all three of the week's fairs with the rest of the Balearic Islands. From Wednesday (13th) to Sunday (17th) a guide contracted by the CiF will tell visitors at the Vakantiebeurs destination trade show in Utrecht, Netherlands about the charm of the southern Pitiusa island. From Thursday (14th) to Sunday (17th), Formentera will also have representatives at the Ferien de Viena fair in Austria. At the weekend, reps will continue by showing crowds at CMT (Stuttgart, Germany) the best Formentera has to offer.

Next week

Representatives of the island will continue their whirlwind tour of Europe's tourism fairs through next week. Monday January 18th a member of staff from Baltus – a local leader in advertising to travellers in Holland – will represent Formentera at a Turespaña event in the Hague. Later in the week Formentera will be present at Turespaña's stand at the Matka fair in Helsinki, Finland between January 21st and 24th. At the same fair, the island will also have its own stand in an area dedicated to island paradises.

 

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