THE Balearics appears to be in disarray over what to do with its tourism promotion campaigns in view of the pending war in Iraq. Yesterday Balearic president Francesc Antich called on the prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, to start pumping more money in to promoting the Balearics and other regions dependent on tourism to try and ease the effects of the international crisis. But there is confusion over when these campaigns should be launched. The Majorcan Tourist Board believes that the Balrearics should wait until “this nightmare” is over before launching into any campaigns to revive the tourist industry. The Balearic confederation of business associations, however, maintains that the promotions should start as soon as possible. Antich, who opened the annual Islands Commission conference in Palma yesterday, said “now is not the time for making great statements, it is the time for giving tourism a hand with extra funding to help promotions. “I think the State is going to have to make a special effort in view of the impact the pending war in Iraq is going to have on us, there are no bigger enemies of tourism than terrorism, violence and war,” Antich added. The Balearic leader said that any war will have “clear” repercussions on the region. “We've already seen how it is affecting bookings at the travel fairs in Madrid and Berlin, but so far the attempts made by the government to ease the blow of the conflict, in particular in the Balearics, have proved useless.” The Majorcan Tourist Board however, would rather the promotion campaigns be put on hold until the “nightmare” of a posible war is over. The head of the tourist board fears that launching promotional campaigns over the next few days “will be like playing Russian roulette,” explaining that if the military strike on Iraq does not go ahead and war is averted, all the promotional efforts would have proved pointless. The president of the Confederation of Balearic Business Associations, Josep Oliver, threw his weight behind Antich, calling for some kind of immediate promotional action to be taken.

Oliver said that the general consensus of opinion within the Balearic business sector is that the government needs to react to the situation now. “The government should not give in to the troubled situation, but should come out fighting” in order to make sure that the drop in the number of tourists this year is as small as possible. However, there are also fears that if the Balearics is seen to be making a huge play on the tourism promotion front, the region may get accused of trying to cash in on the war and blatantly benefit at the expense of Eastern Mediterranean holiday destinations which are already starting to see summer bookings dry up. During the last Gulf War, there was an important shift from Eastern resorts to the Western Med and Balearic Tourism Minister Celesti Alomar refered to the many tourists the Balearics has won at the expense of problems in the Eastern Med in the past just the other day.


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