Palma.—In the end, the tourist season panned out better than expected in the Balearics last year with a late end of season surge in tourists, particularly from the UK, which pushed the total number of visitors up to 10.4 million, 3.3 percent more than during 2011.

But yesterday, Exceltur, the Alliance for Excellence in Tourism, warned the industry against getting complacent because the sector “is neither alien nor immune” to the current economic situation and it is not “a float which can weather everything.” The Vice-president of Excletur, Jose Luis Zoreda, speaking in the wake of the release of the tourism figures for last year, said that 2012 has its “ups and downs”.

He said that while the industry brought in some 43'000 million euros to the Spanish economy, consumer confidence is still very fragile and spending by foreign visitors could have been higher while Spaniards spent a total of 1.6 less on buying holidays last year and that has hit the travel agents. During a special breakfast meeting to dissect what happened last year, Zoreda said that the biggest problem Spain's tourist industry is facing are the “contradictory” policies introduced by the government.

He singled out three principal problems, the hike in airport operating taxes, the September increase in IVA (VAT) and the reduction in the number of subsidised holidays for pensioners.

As a result, in order to compensate for the damage the government's conflicting policies have caused, the tourist industry has to seriously start considering reinventing itself, diversifying the services and facilities on offer and embrace a more proactive public/private sector model to improve quality in the market. “We need to adopt to management structures which prevent extra costs being passed onto our clients and also increase the size of our operating margins,” he said.

At the moment, market research points towards the Balearics having another good year with an extremely early surge in the sale of package holidays being driven by the British market but Exceltur wants to see greater volumes of tourists translate into greater income.

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