by Staff Reporter
ANTONIO de la Morena, director general of affiliated members of the World Tourism Organsation, (WTO) said in Palma yesterday that “tourism is showing signs of wanting to break out of the most serious crisis it has had in its history.” He was speaking to journalists after presenting the conclusions of the Organisation's two-day congress in the Balearics.
He said that world tourism was beginning to grow again after diverse negative factors which “have undermined consumer confidence.” De la Morena was not only referring to terrorist attacks and conflicts such as those of Iraq or Afghanistan, but health scares such as the SARS scare which hit tourism in Asia.

He said that episodes such as this have lead to the “rediscovery” of the “interdependence” of tourism with other areas and the need for the World Tourism Organisation, a UN organism, to tighten its “strategic alliances with other international agencies.” Francisco Sastre, director of the Tourism School at the Balearic University, and head of one of the work groups at the Forum, said that over the two day congress they had discussed the need for closer collaboration and hand books to indicate the action needed in a crisis of this type. Although security was one of the main themes discussed at the congress, the 70 experts also discussed ways of bringing new technologies to small firms (for example, internet for rural hotels) and different alternatives for reconverting long-standing resort areas.

The need for campaigns to stress the values of tourism so that people perceive it as a strategic economic, social and cultural sector was also discussed.

Other matters examined were the possibility of speeding up the granting of visas to make travelling easier or promoting programmes of subsidised tourism.

The closing ceremony of the congress was attended by the deputy secretary general of the WTO David de Villiers and the Balearic director general of tourism promotion Eduardo Gamero.