Staff Reporter
SOME 55'600 tourists visit the Balearic Islands every year for chartered boating holidays.
It's a well established activity in the Islands but it has some “serious failings”. On the presentation of a report on findings in the sector, Chamber of Commerce representative, Joan Gual de Torreda, commented yesterday that the industry required greater control and integral co-ordination. He also believed that organisers and government alike should take greater responsibility in ensuring a cohesive overview of the industry. The study on sea-going tourism in the Balearics in 2002, which begun its research two years ago, reveals that the Islands are geographically sought after as favourite quality destinations among the boating fraternity. It nevertheless has tough competition in the form of already established markets in the Mediterranean (South of France) and the Aegean (Greece), and in the emerging boat charter industries of Turkey and Croatia. Income from boat chartering declared in 2002 wavered between 16.8 and 19.8 million euros; and 26 million euros excluding rent but incorporating other forms of tourist spending. Reservations totalled 389'200, places which were mostly occupied by German clients.
Of this number, 47 percent had chartered in the Baleares before.
The report, however, highlights that bookings dropped somewhat in middle and low season.
According to the study, tourists showed a high level of satisfaction in relation to the boats and equipment chartered, and the way they were received by organisers. Ninety-nine percent of them were happy to repeat the experience.
Joan Garau, a professor at the Balearic University, furthered that the sector is a highly diversified one, making use of 540 boats (largely sailing vessels) controlled by 70 different companies employing a workforce of 235 people. Garau was confident that thanks to this type of tourism, there are now many more people that can sail in the Balearics, “as it has ceased to be a pastime of the privileged”. A number of yacht charter companies in Palma yesterday reported that bookings for next summer were already going well and some suggested that, should demand for charters continues at this present rate, the coming charter season could well transpire to be one of the busiest years. There are also a large number of new yachts coming onto the charter market and many have been singled out by wealthy clients for the coming season. However, the biggest problem the industry faces is moorings, or rather lack of them to meet the high seasonal demand. The former left-wing government imposed a freeze on the construction of more moorings and limited existing marina expansion, but the industry hopes that the new government, with its clear intentions to help boost tourism, especially at the quality end of the market, will throw its weight behind the nautical industry, which has been crying out for help for years.

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