Balearic nautical industry wants to be allowed to expand

By Humphrey Carter HOTELIERS which have found the going tough over the past 12 months, especially in the Balearics where a record number have this winter cut their losses and shut up shop, were yesterday urged not to be defeatist. Instead they were advised to diversify their services and products to help decentralise the tourist market, leading to longer tourist seasons and more business. The Secretary of State for Tourism and Commerce, Juan Costa, said yesterday that the hotel sector could, for example, look to working more closely with the nautical industry “an industry, which already has the infrastructure and facilities but still has massive potential for development which in turn will help to make Spain an even more attractive tourist destination.” Should the hotel and nautical sectors in the Balearics join forces, they would present a powerful lobby for more marinas and moorings which the marine industry has been calling for for years to meet growing demand. Every summer, the Balearics' 20.000 public and private moorings are occupied and long waiting lists form with yachts literally queuing up out at sea for a berth, such is the popularity of the Balearics. Nautical tourists spend an average of 180 euros per day and more than adequately fit the Balearic government's profile of a quality tourist. What is more, according to the president of the Association of Balearic Marinas, Bartolomé Bestard, the government, by refusing to lift the restrictions on marina and mooring expansions, is “contradicting” itself as the industry, which in 1999 turned over 281 million euros, does not consume as much land and hotel and resort developments and the clients are big spenders “while other tourists spend three times less per day.” The recently imposed marina freeze has done little to lift the nautical sector's spirits, especially at a time when a number of new Mediterranean destinations are pumping millions into expanding their nautical industries. Support from the hotel sector may help the nautical industry to alter the local government's opinion.