STAFF REPORTER IN his official summing up yesterday of the results of this year's tourist season in the Islands, Balearic minister for Tourism, Joan Flaquer, asserted that the industry was moving through a period of “consolidation”, but that there were still “negative issues” which needed to be addressed.

He acknowledged that although overall figures show that this year has seen an increase in the total number of visitors to the region with its corresponding growth in hotel occupancy rates and tourist spending, there still remained a great deal of preparatory work to be done out of season, not least the task of improving holiday trade on Ibiza and Minorca. It is not new that one of the aims of the Balearic Tourism ministry is to ”deseasonalise” the tourist industry and create all-year-round holidaymaking based on cultural and sporting activities. Business tourism is also on the same agenda, whereby the Islands are promoted as a centre for congresses, trade fairs, and business incentive trips.

Looking in more detail at this year's figures, they confirm Flaquer's statement that the Balearics had a record season with nearly 12 million visitors coming to the Islands. In tourist spending alone, results show that for the first time the 1'000 million euro barrier was broken (9'993 millions between January and November), representing an increase of 6.3 percent over and above last year's results.

However, it can be seen that the bumper season would not have appeared quite so rosy if it had not been for an excellent surge of support for holiday offers on Majorca by all major clients (except the British market). The boost was vital and offset disappointing trends elsewhere in the Balearics - without it, there could have been a negative figure standing out on the balance sheet.

The graphic shows the growth movements of key tourist elements in the Balearics and it can be seen that those for Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera were down due to the fall in business from the British and the Italian markets.