By Jason Moore
WHILE the Balearics had a successful time at the World Travel Market tourism fair in London this week some issues have come to light. The first is that despite a record number of holidaymakers coming to the islands last season tourist spending actually fell and in some cases quite dramatically. The local minister for tourism, Francesc Buils, underlined this fact during his interview with the Bulletin. More tourists spending less is bad news and it rather takes the icing off the cake as regards summer 2007. Why are tourists spending less? Well it is probably cheaper to come on holiday here than ever before with offers, cheap flights etc all coming into the equation. Perhaps, the high prices on the island have become a turn-off and as a direct result are spending less. So overall a good year but less money in the bank. Unfortunately, with a higher cost of living and tourists spending less the local economy will suffer. And now to the age-old chestnut of winter tourism. Yes, it is true that all those hotel workers who have a fixed contract and who work for six months can claim unemployment benefit for the remainder of the year. If hotels did open for nine months a year instead of six it would rather break the status quo. But surely hotel workers would prefer to be in employment and therefore this state of affairs should not be used as a excuse to explain why tourists don´t come here in the winter. I was quite amazed that this issue was not discussed at the World Travel Market. As I have said many times with abit of imagination and a decent strategy the Balearics can attract tourists during the winter months. Until this problem is properly addressed the islands will not prosper.

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