THE former Minister for Employment and Balearic government spokesperson Joana Barcelo was yesterday sworn in as the new Minister for Tourism.
Balearic President Francesc Antich did not waste any time in naming the three replacements for the Majorcan Unionist Party ministers who were sacked at the end of last week following the arrest of the former Minister for Tourism and leader of the UM party, Miguel Nadal.
Barcelo did not waste any time in getting to work either.
The new Minister for Tourism yesterday called on the opposition Partido Popular and all local branches of the tourist sector to join forces and work together in getting the maximum out of the tourist industry.
She announced that a new commission involving all sections of the Balearic industry is going to be set up today to monitor the developments in the tourist market and discuss ways of improving the situation.
Barcelo stressed the economic importance of tourism to the region and extended an olive branch to the PP, inviting them to join the commission and help in the drive to give the tourist industry a new lease of life and injection of confidence.
Barcelo is the fourth Minister for Tourism of this current government but she received the widespread backing of the tourist industry yesterday.
Messages of support came from both the private and public sectors as well as union bosses and the various business and commercial associations. Josep Oliver, the President of the Confederation of the Balearic Business Association (CAEB), praised Barcelo for her tried and tested track record. We wish her well in her new job despite the circumstances under which she takes over the Ministry. The founder and Chairman of the international Majorcan hotel group Sol Melia, Gabriel Escarrer said that the change had been necessary and that Barcelo is the ideal person to take over at Tourism because of the great job she did in Minorca.
Hence, I am hopeful for the future, he added.
The new Minister received the similar praise and a pledge of cooperation from the Majorcan Hotel Federation.
The President of the Association of Balearic Travel Agents and the President of the Majorcan Tourist Board, Pedro Iriondo, said that Barcelo knows the tourist industry well but admitted that he hopes this is the last change in Minister before the next elections in just over a year's time.
We're going to give Barcelo all the support and assistance we can to make sure that we get through this year which we know is going to be another complicated one in the tourist industry he said.
The unions are also happy with Barcelo's appointment, the revival of the tourism commission and that Antich has finally put an end to the corruption scandals rocking the coalition government by expelling the UM from the government, the Council of Majorca and Palma City Council.
The situation was untenable and an embarrassment, said Lorenzo Bravo, the Secretary General of the Balearic UGT General Workers' Union.
BARCELO FACT FILE
Born in Ciutadella, Minorca 1959
Studied Geography at the Balearic University
Consumer Inspector for Ciutadella Council 1985
First elected to Balearic parliament and Council of Minorca
President of Council of Minorca 1999, 2003 and 2007
Named Minister for Employment and Balearic government spokesperson 2008