REDUCTION IS NECESSARY TO IMPROVE QUALITY, SAYS BALEARIC LEADER

BALEARIC leader Francesc Antich announced yesterday that he would ask the central government to take part in a five year plan aimed at reducing the number of hotels in the Balearics, bringing about “a profound transformation” of the current offer. He did not indicate how much the Balearic government would be assigning to the initiative, but he said “I am certain that the general State budget could find room for a plan like this” in favour of an industry as strategic for Spain as tourism. Antich said that renovating the hotels in the archipelago “is absolutely necessary” to make the progress in tourism which his government wants to make. Antich announced the five year plan at the closing of the first congress on the economy of the Balearics. He was speaking to an audience of university students. Antich said that the plan would offer aid to hotels which are more than 20 years old, in order to reduce the number of beds “in favour of quality.” He added that as a pilot experience, some old hotels with more than 400 beds had been refurbished and converted into 200-bed establishments, which has meant an increase in quality and services and has resulted in “excellent financial returns.” Antich went on to say that the difficulties the hotel sector is now experiencing are probably due to an excess number of beds “built at a time of passing euphoria.” Although he declined to give figures, Antich said that “the reduction of beds is an inevitable aim in the medium term and within the context of replacing quantity with quality.” Antich explained “I have always said that we should not be obsessed by the number of tourists but by the number of satisfied tourists and their spending power.” But Rosa Estarás, the conservative Popular Party deputy, slammed the suggestion, saying that the government could have set it in motion four years ago instead of waiting until two months before the elections. She also accused Antich of having destroyed the prestige of the Balearics.

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