By Humphrey Carter
THE Balearics is poised to push the boat out with regards to expanding the local cruise liner industry.
Launching a new cruise industry programme yesterday, the director general for the promotion of tourism, Eduardo Gamero, said there is still massive room for growth in the cruise sector.

Christening the campaign on board the cruise ship Aida, Gamero said that last year some 400'000 cruise passengers came to the Balearics, 160'000 of whom stayed in local hotels.

He said that both the port and the airport has plenty of room to handle further growth in the sector and that the Balearic government will be embarking on a number of schemes this summer, aimed at encouraging growth in the market and establishing the Balearics as one of the most important cruise destinations in the world.

Seetours, which owns Aida believes that the port expansion project carried out over the winter has created sufficient space for 20 per cent more cruise ships this summer.

The shipping company also committed itself to operating out of Palma, winter and summer, for the next ten years.
Seetours expects to attract some 90'000 cruise passengers a year to Palma to board the Aida, with just under half during the winter season.
What is more, passengers will be offered two week holidays consisting of a week at sea and a week in Majorca.
Majorcan Hotel federation boss Pedro Cañellas welcomed the cruise line's commitment to Majorca, adding that it will help to establish Majorca as one of the leading cruise destinations, while also generating important business for restaurants and shops over the winter in Palma.

He said that the cruise and hotel industries are working increasingly closer together in Majorca with many of the cruise lines this year accommodating their clients in hotels prior to and after the cruise.

He added that, on the whole, cruise passengers are middle to average spenders and have become a major driving force behind the excursion and guided tour market.

Cañellas also believes that European Union expansion will be good for Balearic tourism.
While on the one hand he warned that the new member states are new competitors, they are also new feeder markets for the Balearic tourist industry which have already shown a great deal of interest in what the region has to offer.

Local hoteliers also see the new EU members as attractive investment countries.
Leading Majorcan hotel chain Sol Melia took the initiative some three years ago, buying a hotel chain in Croatia, and now many of the main Majorcan chains are following their lead by moving into the new markets.


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