Staff Reporter
THE leader of the Balearic Islands, Jaume Matas, said yesterday that the tourist industy in the Islands in 2003, especially the second half, experienced a “recovery” following two consecutive years of falling figures. He believed that the perspectives for this season “are encouraging” and “moderately optimistic”.
After visiting the Balearic Islands' stand at the Fitur Tourism Trade Fair exhibition currently showing in Madrid, Matas quoted six percent as the growth in the number of visitors in relation to 2002. He highlighted the fact that the perspectives for this season “are good and we expect that the figures of 2003 will be carried forward into 2004” but “at this stage, we can't say more than that”. Matas also made reference to the pressure on the industry to lower its prices in order to attract greater number of tourists. He insisted, however, that “we must stand our ground. Although it's tempting to lower prices, it would be a retrograde step because we have to maintain the growth in quality which has hallmarked our drive to reverse the falling trend in tourism here”. The leader went on to explain that the recovery experienced in the sector last year was also due to “the governemnt policy drive in diversifying tourist activity. This has included creating a market for attracting all-year-round holidaymakers through offering different forms of tourism. Alternate activities are offered in sports and culture, business and conference organisation. Matas said the holiday offer to key client countries has significantly improved”. He signalled that national tourism was the area that had promoted the greatest growth in the industry last year. With regard to the international market, the principal visitors “continue to be the British, followed by the Germans and the Italians, to the detriment of the French”. For 2004, Matas declared that the strategy will focus on three areas: the diversification of the current tourist package offer through activities such as cycling, sailing, country walking and golf; the promotion of cultural and historical heritage and the focus for visitors on often-overlooked naturual habitat attractions. In this context, he placed a high value on the Costa Nord Cultural Centre on Majorca, which opens up “other natural attractions of the Island” for visitors. Matas also prized the new Museum of Contemporary Art in Palma.

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