Staff Reporter
LEADER of the Balearic government, Jaume Matas, gave assurances yesterday, that following a year of his Partido Popular being in power in the Islands, there are signs that the region's economy is embarking “on a path of moderate growth”.

Matas, who was speaking on the first anniversary of his party coming to power in the region, remained convinced that “the overall balance of the tourist season this year will be better than last”.

He signalled, however, that the improvement in the tourist sector has not reached the level that he would like to see; “neither has there been sufficient recovery for hotel businesses needed to create new jobs. Nevertheless, this erosion is showing signs of changing direction. At the moment, it is a ray of hope, nothing more” furthered Matas. He emphasised that the creation of jobs and improvement of infrastructure “are the two main objectives” of his government.

In order to trigger growth in the tourist industry of the Islands, which has had to face ever-increasing competition from other holiday destinations, Matas has opted for high profile promotional campaigns”. “I also feel it is very important to address the issue of creating all-year-round tourism, offering cultural and sporting alternatives to traditional packages of “sun, sea and sand”.

Over the last few years, we have cut the traditional tourist season off short, and this is not helpful for the hotel industry but even worse for people working in the sector” said Matas.

Regarding the second key objective of his government, improvement in infrastructure, Matas confirmed his belief that the Balearics are “badly off” in terms of an infrastructure which offers people a good quality of life and which enables businesses to compete on the open market.

Convinced that the majority of the Islands' citizens believe that the roads in the Balearics are “third world”, Matas claimed that the growing number of fatal traffic accidents is largely due to the poor state of the roads. Faced with this situation, the government has decided to accelerte its Highway Plan and hopes that the new central Socialist government in Madrid “will respect the accords signed”, which the Balearic government had ratified with the outgoing central government under José María Aznar”.

Matas guaranteed that, if the Socialists fail to fulfill the financing agreement, the regional government will carry through all the projects planned for Minorca and Ibiza and all those which have begun, or which are about to be carried out, in Majorca; but some very key projects, such as the second Palma ringroad, and more controversial ones, such as the Inca to Manacor dual carriageway, will depend on State funding for which the regional government is prepared to negotiate.

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