BALEARIC tourism chief Joan Flaquer admitted in Parliament for the first time that all inclusive holidays have now become widespread in the Balearics, but he blamed the situation on the previous coalition government.
He claimed that the contracts had been signed months before July 2003, when he was named tourism minister and the situation was due to the weakness of the Balearics as a destination.
Flaquer was speaking in answer to a question by socialist deputy, Celestí Alomar, his predecessor in the post.
Alomar had asked about the conclusions of a meeting held with various business associations to discuss all inclusive holidays.
Flaquer said that it was obvious that this type of holiday could not be banned but what the government could do was check on the quality of the services provided by means of inspections.
Alomar claimed that the all inclusive was made in Flaquer because it only became widespread this year, and he accused the minister of trying to play down the phenomenon, having been quoted as saying it was just a fashion.
Local bars, restaurants and clubs are opposed to the all inclusive method, in which the tourist pays for everything, including snacks, drinks and entertainment, before boarding the plane. This means that they do not have to leave the hotel for anything during their entire stay.
The bar and restaurant owners say that takings are down, and claim that if all inclusive becomes more popular they will be forced out of business.
Flaquer later went on to say that promoting marketing of hotel beds via internet is one of the major challenges of the future, alongside classical marketing methods.
In this respect, he explained that the government is acting in two directions - by offering businesses the chance of accessing this type of marketing and promoting Balearic portals in the main markets.
He said that the government has made agreements with the hoteliers associations and has launched the Avanthotel project.
Flaquer will be in Vienna today, for talks with the chief Austrian tour operators and representatives of the major travel agencies.
They will be analysing the situation of the Austrian market with regard to the Balearics and will study joint promotional policies.
The minister will be accompanied by Juan Carlos Alia, managing director of Ibatur (Balearic Tourism Institute).
Last year, the Balearics welcomed 88'000 Austrian tourists, slightly more than last year, but way below 1999 when the figure rose to 115'000. editorialUmajorcadailybulletin.es