By Humphrey Carter
THE continuing industrial unrest in the private transport sector in the Balearics is starting to make the tourist industry a little nervous as the summer season gradually gathers momentum.

The Balearic tourist industry took a long time to shake off the images of tens of thousands of tourists stranded at Palma airport during the three-day coach strike three years ago and with another tough summer ahead, the last thing the Balearics needs is another coach strike.

President of AVIBA, the Balearic association of travel agents, Jaume Bauza, said it will be “collective suicide” if there is another strike. “The memories of the 2001 strike are still very painful,” he added.
Alarm bells are starting to sound in the business and tourist sectors. “We're facing a difficult summer and tough competition from the Eastern European destinations, we can't afford to be seen as a troubled destination,” Bauza said.

He has called on both the union and coach company bosses to be “responsible and sensible, I don't think the Balearics will be able to cope with another coach strike, the impact overseas will be extremely negative.” Pere Cañellas, president of the Majorcan Hotel federation, is equally concerned, but admits his hands are tied. “We can't do anything but wait and hope that the parties involved reach a swift and satisfactory conclusion,” he said. “They're all well aware of the implications of industrial action,” he added.
President of the Majorcan Tourist Board, Miguel Vicens, says it is a double-edged sword. He is convinced that the unions and coach companies will reach short-term agreement, but he is also concerned about the long term implications. The next round of talks is set for Tuesday and the tourist industry hopes that a deal can be reached before a very significant summer season gets underway.

This year, the Balearics has gone in search of new markets.
While much effort has been spent on consolidating and boosting the existing key markets, such as the UK, the tourism authorities have been busy trying to woo tourists from the new European Union member states. A good impression is going to ve crucial for the Balearics if it wants to attract new visitors from the East.

However, the vice-president of European Tourism Academy, Enrique Torres Bernier, said yesterday that the “majority” of visitors from the Eastern European countries are going to be “cheap.” What is more, until the new members have become fully accustomed to the idea of the European Union, he does not see many people travelling overseas on holiday in the short term.


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