LAST year the Balearics played host to 11'626'188 tourists which was an increase of 3.4 percent on 2004, according to Jaume Matas, leader of the Balearic Government. These figures confirm the continuation of the recovery of the Balearic tourist sector which started two and a half years ago. Matas was speaking at a press conference at the Balearic stand in the International Tourism Fair (FITUR) in Madrid after participating in a promotion of the islands together with the Majorcan tennis player Rafael Nadal. During this promotion, to celebrate Balearic Day in FITUR, Rafael Nadal said he felt proud to take part in the promotion of his home region and said that the more he travels, the more he appreciates the values of the islands. He urged people to visit the islands. Matas said that the tourist figures had been positive during last year and had, in some cases, reached historic figures. He underlined the fact that the majority of new tourists had visited in the mid or low seasons, which fits in with what the Balearic Government is trying to achieve. Tourist spending reached more that 10 million euros last year, which is a rise of 6.5 percent on 2004, said Matas, who added that there had been a rise of 10 percent in the number of visitors since 2002, the year in which the tourist sector suffered due to various factors. During the past year there had been an important rise in the number of cruise ships visiting the islands, bringing more than 800'000 visitors, 19.4 percent more than in 2004. This was an important rise which did not influence the overnight stay figures but rather the total income of the islands as these people have a lot of money to spend. By island, Majorca had a rise in tourists of 5.4 percent, Minorca a fall of 2 percent, and Ibiza and Formentera a fall of 3 percent, which was due to the drop in the number of British and Italian visitors. Matas announced that the Government will this year make a special effort to ensure that all the islands can be included in guaranteeing the best possible success for our tourism sector. Matas thanked Nadal, the para-Olympic swimmer Xavi Torres and the cyclist Alejandro Valverde for being there to promote the islands and said that the sporting facilities on offer would satisfy those who want more than sun and sea from their holiday.
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