By Humphrey Carter
PLAYA de Palma hoteliers yesterday welcomed the results of talks between Balearic Tourism Minister Joan Flaquer and the new Secretary of State for Tourism, Pedro Mejía, in Madrid on Wednesday.

The president of the hotel association, Jordi Cabrer, said that the whole resort has breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the new central government is prepared to push ahead with the Playa de Palma renovation project approved by its conservative predecessors.

Jordi Cabrer said that the improvement plan is absolutely vital for the future of the Playa de Palma which, over the past few years, has suffered a great deal because of the slump in German tourism.

The hotel association boss, who will be holding talks with Flaquer next week, said that, as each summer season gets shorter and shorter, the Playa de Palma desperately needs investment in new tourism projects and schemes to attract out-of-season tourists to the resort. “It's a viscious circle, if the hotels are empty, the local businesses, especially in the service and entertainment sectors, have no clients,” he said. ”The new improvement plan gives us all hope for the future,” he added.
The 200 million euro pilot project will involve a “complete change” for the Playa de Palma. But Cabrer said that once started, the project must not become hampered by political bickering. “If this pilot scheme proves successful, it will be used in other Spanish resorts which have also perhaps seen better days,” he said.
Cabrer added that he hopes that come November, the project will be underway so that the Playa de Palma will be able to show off its new image at the World Travel market in London. “If we can show off our new image in London, and show how it was and how the resort will be, tour operators will be able to see for themselves how we've changed and hopefully give us their backing,” he said yesterday.

Rural tourism in Spain enjoyed a busy month in March, except in the Balearics.
All rural tourism regions reported an increase in guests in comparison to March last year. Only in the Balearics did the number of “rural tourists” take a tumble.

What is more, not only did the number of rural tourism clients rise by 24 percent in March, over a third stayed longer than they did last year.
In the Balearics, the number of rural tourism clients fell by 18 percent, while the big winners were Valencia, where a 72 per cent growth in rural tourism was reported and even the Canaries, up by 27 per cent on March last year.

All of the regions in the north of Spain are enjoying steady growth in rural tourism with the bulk of the clients being either domestic or from the UK.

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