THE Balearic Minister for Tourism, Joan Flaquer, jets into London today for a meeting with members of the travel media and holiday industry bosses.

Flaquer, who returned to Palma last night after a two-day trip to Germany, will use the visit to show the new face of the Balearics government, explain the new tourism policies, drive home the fact that the tourist tax is being scrapped and that holidaymakers are welcome in the Balearics. Flaquer appeared on breakfast television in Germany yesterday “transmitting a positive image” in a bid to save “the lost season.” Flaquer, accompanied by the new director of the Balearic Institute for Tourism Promotion, Juan Carlos Alía, and the director of the Spanish Tourism Promotion office in Germany, Alvaro Blanco, said that one of the Balearic government's primary aims in this legislature is to “recuperate the importance of tourism. “Over the past few years, tourism has been treated negatively as opposed to positively,” the Minister said. “Tourism is vital to the Balearics and the local economy and it needs to be treated in such a way,” he added.

Flaquer went on to say that the tourist tax also served to reduce holiday demand, hence the levy, which has been extremely unpopular in Germany where it was front page news, is being scrapped in October. Yesterday, Flaquer repeated in Germany the new government's commitment to the environment and explained how the new environmental fund being set up by the government is going to work with funding from the Balearics, central government and, if possible, the European Union. Flaquer said that he wants the Balearics “to return to the tourism policies which made the region a leader in the tourist industry.” On the whole, however, there is still a sense of doom and gloom in the German holiday sector, but Blanco said that there are signs that the German market is recovering and Spanish holiday sales are on the way up.

But, with regards to the Balearics market, he said “this will not be the recovery year, but the year we hit rock bottom.” Flaquer is hoping for a more positive response in London today.