When did you start with the horse riding routes?
It was in March 2004, when my partner, Antonio Bosch, started the company Cavalls Son Àngel. I was by his side, supporting and helping him, combining routes with my job at a bank. Then, in 2013, I became part of the company full time.
What services does your company and the associated companies offer?
Our company offers routes and excursions on horse around Son Àngel estate and along Camí de Cavalls. We organise excursions which can go from 1-hour long rides for people who have never been in contact with horses, to 5-day routes for experienced riders. With regard to the associated companies, we can speak about a wide range of outdoor activities: sailing, hiking, cycling and paragliding companies; rural hotels, transfer and boat rental companies; I wouldn’t like to leave anyone out… Our association comprises a great variety of companies; what joins us is that all our activities are developed on the same stage, Menorca, its scenery and its people.
How long have you been the president of Menorca Activa? How do you face this new stage of the association?
I’ve been in front of the association for two years now. Even though Menorca Activa has existed for years, we face this new period as if it were a new beginning, with new hopes and objectives. Although most of the members are small companies which struggle with timing, we are aware that this is a project that can benefit us all. Even the mere fact of getting to know one another is worth the effort to make the association grow.
What are the main activities of the association? Is being part of an association still important nowadays?
At the moment we focus our efforts on three factors. The first one is to make ourselves known, in order to enlarge the number of members; we want that active tourism companies know about our work and want to join us.
Secondly, we get together in a common front to communicate our needs, requirements and perceptions of reality to the citizenship and the public administrations. As I have already said, active tourism companies are generally small companies, family businesses with one or two self-employed workers and few employees. Being part of the association Menorca Activa, gives them strength and a voice that would not be possible to have on their own.
The third factor is promotion. Members’ shares and any other public aids obtained for the promotion of the association are invested to promote the island of Menorca as a whole, active tourism companies (being them members or not) and activities carried out during the low season. Active Tourism is the best way to extend the season and remove pressure from June, July and August, to make Menorca less seasonal.
I firmly believe that being part of an association is the basis of our society. Today more than ever.
In your opinion, what kind of tourists are generally users of active tourism?
The tourists who contact our companies cannot be classified in excess. They can range from a family with children from a Nordic country to a young Italian couple. In general, we can speak about people who are interested in knowing the destination, who not only want to enjoy the sun and good weather. They want to know the island in detail, to be talked about it, to know its people, to have adventures and take beautiful experiences and memories back home.
Do you consider that Menorca has tourist appeal during the low season?
Of course! I think that the months of April to June are the most beautiful and pleasant to visit the island. The countryside is at its best and we can enjoy stunning views all the time. Also, from September to the end of November the sea is at a perfect temperature, the beaches are not so crowded, and you can do all kinds of activities without it being too hot; the forests are clean after the first rains. It is always a good time to visit Menorca. Even in winter, by a nice fireplace with a good book and a glass of wine, sheltered from a storm and strong wind. I can’t imagine a better place.
Menorca has enough potential to be a cultural and scenic interest destination. In your opinion, how could this be boosted? Are there any specialised companies?
I think that companies are starting to take off, to do their job very well. We are surrounded by good professionals who use their holiday months to travel and learn from countries which are at the forefront in relation to active tourism. There’s a lot to learn and a long way to go, but we’re on the right track, we’re eager to do it and the scenery is unbeatable. I guess the best way to boost a destination (not considering some issues which are not in our hands right now, like flight connections) is to do our job with the highest excellence, so that every person who goes back home recommends his/her friends to come to Menorca. This has never been easier than nowadays, through social networks. Word of mouth travels at the speed of light. We have to be very active in this sense. And do a very good job. Be the best. I also think that we make mistakes at trying to be like somebody else, like our neighbours, near or far. We must be proud of who we are and boost our own strengths. We Menorcans sometimes fail at that, we always think the others are better than us.
At the moment, the Island Council of Menorca is having a good bet at promoting Camí de Cavalls. Is the path being cleaned and well kept?
Camí de Cavalls has eroded a lot and very fast since it was opened. We started as an example of cleanliness, but lately there is a problem with rubbish and, particularly, plastics. From some meetings we’ve had with representatives of the administration, I think they are aware of both problems and they are working on them. Unfortunately, everything goes really slowly. It is us, the citizens, and the associations who have to put some pressure to accelerate this issue, so that it doesn’t become incontrollable. We must not allow Camí de Cavalls to become damaged by use. It must be used and must be prepared for it without suffering. As regards its cleaning, I guess the responsibility is quite shared. We should be more civic.
Going on with Camí de Cavalls, would it be good to equip it with some minimum facilities, like toilets, rubbish bins, fountains and parking space?
First of all, I think that people who go along Camí de Cavalls should know where they’re going. It is not possible that there are some people in the sun in Cala’n Calderer asking how to leave the path because they have run out of water. Above all, there should be more information. From this point, of course it should be equipped with certain facilities. In our case, we have serious trouble with water for the horses. It must be taken into account that facilities require maintenance, all this must be anticipated.