Staff Reporter THE new central Socialist government in Madrid is preparing a new strategy in tourism which aims to offer real alternatives to the classic attraction of Spain's “sun, sea and sand” holidays.

José Montilla, minister for Industry, Tourism and Commerce, confirmed yesterday in the Senate in Madrid, that there are plans afoot to introduce the country as a “destination of quality and culture”.

He was responding to a question from the Partido Popular MP, Miguel Barceló at a meeting on the future of tourism in Spain. Montilla spoke of the “new dynamic” of alternative forms of tourism.

Amongst these variants, Montilla pointed to the advantages for Spain which would come from introducing cultural and “linguistic” tourism; from promoting business tours and conferences in a holiday setting: from moving decisively to develop nature tourism; and from increasing the presence of Spanish promotional vehicles in emerging markets.

The minister revealed that campaigns will be aimed at the markets of Eastern Europe and Asia, “above all in China, as well as in other areas such as South Africa, where there is an economic potential which we can capture for our country”.

Another important measure, said Montilla, is that of considering the increasingly important role that low-cost airlines play in maintaining Spain as an affordable holiday destination of quality.

The speech came as the Workers Commissions (CCOO) in the Balearics called on the Balearic government to take “urgent” measures to extend the season in the tourist industry, whereby visitors would be attracted to the Islands all year round, instead of only during the traditional “high season” of May through to the end of October.

The Union move comes following a report showing that this coming winter will be the “worst for 20 years” in terms of out-of-season tourism.
José Benedicto, general secretary of CCO,O and Rafael Borrás, its Employment Training and Policy delegate, aired their “concern” for the future of quality of employment in an industry which has long claimed to be the most important sector of the Balearic economy.

Borrás suspected that the Balearics is facing its “worst winter for the last 20 years” because he is aware of arrangements to maintain a workforce in only a few hotels. He has also heard on the grapevine that some establishments plan to close sooner than usual.

It has come to light, reported the CCOO representatives, that there has been shortening of the period of fixed contracts for workers, to a point where “only” 60 percent of the total of 43'000 who have jobs secured under such conditions, will have employment for 6 months or more of the year. The situation brings with it all the associated difficulties of a redundant workforce collecting benefit.

Benedicto also referred to the fact that there are tour operators who have decided to stop operating in Majorca this winter, contrary to what they have done in previous years.

Borrás announced that new proposals to be presented by the Workers Commission to the leader of the Balearic government, Jaume Matas, will be given at a summit this coming 5 July.