Staff Reporter SECRETARY general of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party in the Balearics, Francesc Antich, spoke out yesterday against the present Balearic government under the Partido Popular, accusing it of “damaging” the image of the Balearics overseas.

Antich condemned the fact that during its first year of office, the government's current tourism policy has “harmed” the image of the Balearics by going down market and converting the Islands into a “cheap” holiday destinattion. The attack came on two fronts, both in terms of diminishing the cost quality ratio, and for promoting the availability of the “all-inclusive” offer where visitors to the Islands pay for all their food and drink at the hotel in advance of their stay.

The Socialist deputy, the former leader of the Balearic government, announced that he has sent a letter to the regional government leader, Jaume Matas, calling for wider political debate on touristic trends in the Islands.

Antich alleged that the government “has only been concerned with promoting new forms of marketing and for developing business interests”. He furthermore denounced the fact that with the Partido Popular in power, the seasonal nature of tourism is becoming “increasingly clear”.

Antich proposed modifying the structure of tourism as it currently exists in the Islands, and bringing in a different dimension to meet the new demands of hostelry.

He also proposed the creation of a system of using advanced technology, research, training and communication in order to respond to market requirements.

Antich reproached the Balearic leader, Jaume Matas, for promoting “dangerous” measures, such as the repeal of the Tourist tax, which in theory was levied to provide funding for ecological conservation; and for his “grandiose schemes that bear little fruit”.

Continuing the theme, Antich criticised the leader's “cavalier approach” to protecting the territory of the Islands and for his promotion of “unnecessarily large” building projects, such as the Llucmajor bypass. “The structure of tourism in the Islands is now out of date and requires change”, said Antich. “The policies of the present government are the same as those in place 20 years ago and fail to take account of market evolution”.

He added that: “the overseas image of the Islands fails to reflect the diversity of life and culture on offer in the Balearics. Tour operators have converted the tourist product into depersonalised sun, sea and sand packages for mass consumption”.