News desk
A spokeswoman for the nautical firms association in PIMEM, said yesterday that the drop in nautical tourism in the first half of 2004 was due to “deficiences” such as lack of promotion and shortage of berths, dirty coastal waters and an upsurge of competing destinations.

As reported in yesterday's Bulletin, the number of yachts and sailing vessels in Majorca's marinas has fallen by 20 percent, although the situation has improved this month.

The spokeswoman said it was the charter business which was suffering most, with figures ten percent down on last year, while ports have raised their charges by 30 to 40 percent since the new Ports Law came into force.

She added that it was “difficult” to maintain companies afloat because of the increase in fuel prices and because of an “uncontrollable unfair competition” from boats which arrive from Spain's eastern coast and offer themselves for charter in the Balearics.

She also underlined the need to launch the Strategic Plan for the nautical sector, which was first mooted in 2002.
It is claimed by the association that the authorities are not taking into account the role which the nautical sector could play in extending the tourist season in the Balearics, where most of the activity is centred around July and August, and many hotels and businesses close for the winter.

The association has also criticised the authorities, claiming that the steps that have been taken so far are merely “stopgap measures which do not solve the real problem.” These steps include the plan for cleaning up coastal waters or new regulations which fine boats found guilty of dumping rubbish at sea, promoted by the ministries of the environment and tourism, advances in promotion with a website and stands at fairs in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce. Cleaning up does help, but it is not the complete solution, the association said.

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