News-desk

THE President of the German Tour giant TUI, Michael Frenzel, (which owns Britain's Thomson holidays) yesterday voiced his satisfaction with the new government's announced intention to scrap the “Tourist Tax”. He made clear his willingness to co-operate in the re-establishment of the image previously enjoyed by the Islands and didn't discount TUI's participation in the new environmental investment fund which has been proposed by the Balearic Executive. The company President, whose firm last year brought in the region of two million German and British tourists to the Islands, was speaking publicly following a meeting with the Government President, Jaume Matas and the Balearics' Tourist Minister, Joan Flaquer, held to discuss several aspects of the current tourist situation. During the meeting, Matas and Flaquer updated Frenzel on the outcome of a summit held on Tuesday with senior representatives from the tourist sector. Issues on the agenda had been the scrapping of the eco-tax by October of this year, the creation of an investment fund to finance environmental improvements, and the launching of advertising campaigns in client markets. Frenzel began his contribution to the discussion by applauding these initiatives. He believed the boost to tourism will enable it to “reassert itself” in the Balearics, above all by means of promotional campaigns in client market countries in which he would be happy to collaborate. From the point of view of the tourist industry, these campaigns have appeared at a moment when holiday reservations are experiencing a light recovery showing favourably against sales for last year. “We are convinced that at the end of the season, the comparative figures will be higher than last year” he calculated, in spite of recognizing the fact that 2002 was a negative exercise in terms of holiday sales. Frenzel highlighted the importance of conveying a “positive image” of the Islands to the client markets, in terms of price as well as other aspects. On this point he commented “it's important to publicize that holidays in the Balearics are competitively priced” pro rata their quality. Germany, for example, may still see the Islands as an expensive destination. Given that the repeal of the tourist tax would mean loss of financing in the sector of environmental improvement, the TUI president also considered the plan to create an environmental investment fund, a “very positive” one. He agreed that such themes “should always be given support”, as much by private organizations as by public institutions. Asked if he would contribute economically to this proposed scheme, Frenzel answered that he would but “details would have to be firmed up” in future meetings with the Balearic government. The Minister for Tourism added at this juncture that contributions by the private sector would, in any event, be voluntary.