STAFF REPORTER THE Majorcan Chamber of Commerce said yesterday that at the start of the third quarter of the year, business confidence in the Balearics is improving despite the fact that all economic trends have been on the downturn so far this year.

Following a meeting of the Chamber earlier this month, members have come up with a proposed package for tackling the “uncertainties” of the economy. A spokesman said that business confidence had “bottomed out” during the first half of the year and that at the start of the second half, although still negative (-24.1 points), it seemed to be improving as ratings were 9.4 points better than they had been.

Separately, with regard to prospects for the third quarter, pessimism continues with confidence rated at -18.6 points, but it is an improvement on the second quarter. It is, said the Chamber, the hoteliers which are contributing the most to the improvement.

Chamber of Commerce President, Joan Gual said that when the economy recovers, the Balearics need to concentrate on becoming a quality tourism destination in order to be competitive. He suggested that the spotlight needs to be placed on the Islands' historic heritage, the Port of Palma needs to be extended to offer a better reception to cruise ships and the unspoiled environment needs to be managed to accommodate nature trails and excursionism. Gual also recommended better efficiency in public spending, legal protection for businesses wanting to invest in the region and that air links with other destinations, European or otherwise be maintained and even amplified.