Like headless chickens is the only way to describe how the people in charge of our tourist industry are behaving at the moment. What is more worrying still is that their actions are just making things worse. The local minister for tourism, Celesti Alomar, is busy writing to British travel agents telling them that the Balearics are strike-free. While the Secretary for tourism of the Madrid govermment is spending millions of pesetas on a publicity campaign in Britain which involves him writing another letter of thanks to British holidaymakers for their support. Next, the President of the hoteliers association will be writing another letter to the local government and the Ministry for Tourism in Madrid thanking them for their support. The only outcome I can see to this postal campaign is that the already-overburdened Spanish mail service will become further bogged down with thousands of useless letters. What I think the national and local authorities should remember is that our economy depends on tourism and their actions affect everyone. A poor season will have a knock-on effect on every business in the Balearics.
So let's have some leadership with a clear goal in sight. Get the tour operators involved, speak to the various holiday associations in Britain and Germany and work together. Forget about writing letters and wasting more valuable time. The sun is shining, the airport is functioning as normal, the pound is high against the peseta. The Balearics have a great tourist industry, let's hope it stays that way.
On the Genoa agenda
It will be difficult for the leaders attending the Genoa meeting of the G8 group of leading industrialised countries to keep focussed on their agenda while often mindless violence is perpetrated in the streets of the city. Have the protestors who claim to represent the interests of the Third World noticed that today President Mbeki of South Africa will be in Genoa to invite the participation of the G8 nations in a new development plan for Africa approved by the 50 nations at the recent meeting of the Organisation of African Unity? Have they noticed that further implementation of the debt relief programme for impoverished Third World countries is also on the agenda? What are their alternative programmes for helping developing countries?
Another important agenda item today is a G8 statement proposing the deployment of international observers to monitor a future ceasefire or truce between Israel and the Palestinians. The proposal was approved at a preliminary foreign ministers meeting on Thursday which included General Powell, the US Secretary of State. This common sense idea keeps coming up in various forums and it is only the refusal of the Israeli government to accept it that prevents it from being implemented. Given the almost total lack of trust between the two sides and their mutual preference for blaming the other, it is difficult to know why the Israeli govenrment is so opposed to a measure that would bring a highly desirable objectivity to the problem.
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