Cyclists in Formentor. | Aetib

It is forty years since the first Balearic government was formed and so also forty years since the Balearics had its first tourism minister - Jaume Cladera, from a hotel industry background.

Cladera had been a leading figure with the private Fomento del Turismo, the Mallorca Tourist Board, which had been key to the tourism promotion of Mallorca for some 80 years. As minister, he brought that promotional experience to bear - or attempted to. The new government recognised that there was a big issue with seasonality in the Balearics. Yes, there was off-season tourism - largely British and Spanish until the former declined dramatically in the 1980s and was surpassed by a rapidly growing German market - but November to March had never contributed more than 15% (at the very most) to the annual tourist numbers.

The government wanted to do something about this, and so Cladera drafted a strategy. And very prominent in this strategy was the promotion of sports tourism - cycling and golf in particular.

Forty years on, and it's safe to say that there's little which is new under an off-season tourism promotional sun. The range of products that are alternatives to the summer bread and butter of sun and beach has unquestionably broadened - culture, gastronomy, for instance - but sports tourism remains at the heart of the off-season offer. And cycling and golf are central to this; hiking has also developed greatly.

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Over the forty years, governments have grappled with the seasonality problem without ever making genuine inroads. But there is now a growing intensity to the off season and to sports and activities that are available. It's why the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation can describe the sports product as "fantastic" in the autumn months.

The number of establishments which remain open all winter - both coastal and inland - remains small, but it is growing. The federation reckons that up to 25% are all year, and it attributes sports tourism with otherwise enabling an extension of the season into November and a reactivation from around mid-February.

Of importance are the events that now take place. These attract participants and visitors, but they also add to a general perception of Mallorca as an off-season destination that can even benefit the other winter months. In October, for example, the International Masters Cycling Week takes place. The Zafiro Palma Marathon is on October 15. The Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final is at the Alcanada Golf Club in November. And in December, cycling teams such as Ineos arrive on the island for winter training, another boost to the gathering reputation that Mallorca has as an off-season sports tourism destination.

The Cladera strategy has taken its time to truly bear fruit, but the momentum is now very clear.