By Humphrey Carter PALMA

THE Balearic Minster for Tourism, Joana Barcelo, announced yesterday that the Balearic Tourism Agency has nearly 45 million euros, six million more than last year, to spend on promoting tourism this year.

Barcelo made the announcement just 24 hours after it was confirmed that Mar Guerrero, the Director of the Balearic Tourism Agency, had tendered her resignation along with the agency's Finance Director, Miriam Martínez.

The Tourism Minister called yesterday's press conference when the news broke of the double resignation and Barcelo paid tribute to the very hard work both Guerrero and Martinez had carried out during “a very complicated and difficult year”.

The Minister admitted that the budgetary restrictions and the 47 million euro deficit the ministry has accumulated since 2003, created a “tense administrative environment” to work in and that she fully understands the reasons for their decisions but the Minister denied that the lack of funds was the reason for the resignations.

However, the ministry's apparent financial problems have prevented Barcelo from covering the two now vacant positions in a bid to save money.
Barcelo announced yesterday that the Director General for Tourism Promotion, Vicent Torres will be in charge of pushing ahead with the marketing plan drawn up by the Agency for Tourism Promotion. “FUNDS NOT USED PROPERLY” Barcelo explained that of the 44'940'923 euros the agency has to promote tourism this year, 22 million euros corresponds to promotional deals already sealed such as attending the four main international travel trade fairs and marketing deals with the tour operators and airlines.

That money is normally released to the tour operators and airlines now to encourage and help them push the Balearics, but last year, they did not receive any funding until September, which the UK tour operators complained was far too late.

A further nine million euros will be split between the various island councils, three million is going to be spent on joint marketing campaigns with the Spanish tourist board, Turespaña, and the rest will be invested in specialised promotional campaigns in key areas.

But, Barcelo stressed that strict controls are going to be placed on spending this year and that her ministry will be more transparent about where and how the money is being spent.

Yesterday, Mar Guerrero told the Bulletin sister paper Ultima Hora that one of the main reasons for her resignation was exactly how the limited money her agency and the Ministry for Tourism had was being spent.

Guerrero, who handed in her letter of resignation back in October, complained that some of the funds set aside for promoting tourism during what was a difficult and challenging year for the industry were not being used properly to market the Balearics.