This weekend Palma airport will handle 294.000 passengers, seven per cent less than the final weekend of September last year. Son San Joan will nevertheless handle just under half a million passengers between now and Thursday, but the 497.500 passengers represent a 6.5 per cent decrease on last year, while air traffic control will handle seven per cent less flights. As usual today is the busiest day with 127.500 passengers expected to pass through the terminal with the airport handling 830 flight movements. The chairman of the Palma-based charter airline Spanair, Gonzalo Pascual, said yesterday that he believes that Spain is managing to “ride” the recession in the international tourist industry, but the industry needs to continue promoting itself. “Tourism is much more resiliant to the crisis that other industries and if we all continue to play our part in the industry, it will continue to be a major pillar of the Spanish economy,” Pascual said. He admitted that the international crisis has had obvious effects on some areas of the Spanish industry, but on the whole he believes that Spain is riding the recession, “50 million tourists will come to Spain this year, the same as 2001,” he said. Pascual admitted that Spain's biggest attraction is its “sun and beaches,” but stressed that sports, rural and cultural tourism are rapidly growing markets. On a negative note however, he said that the introduction of the tourist tax in the Balearics was “unfortunate. It has given the impression that Spain and the Balearics are punishing those who want to visit.” Pascual maintains that Spain's promotional campaigns have to be improved “considering tourism is our main industry, there's much more we could be doing,” he said.

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