Joan Collins WITHIN the next few months the Balearics will have a Centre for Research and Innovation specialising in Tourism and Leisure. This will be the only one in Spain and will bring the number of these centres worldwide to seven. Its aim will be to contribute to and improve the competitivity of the main economic activity of the islands (tourism) through the implementation of practical projects applying to the world of tourism. The centre, which will be situated in the Inestur building in the Parc Bit, will have a budget of 5.8 million euros in 2006 and 2007, of which 2.45 million will be given by the Balearic Government, 2 million by the European Union (EU) and 1.35 million by the Spanish Government, according to the Balearic Minister for Economy, Tax and Innovation, Lluis Ramis de Ayreflor. The centre will be managed by a Foundation or a board of trustees, which will be created within three months. It will not only have the participation of the central and autonomous administrations, but also the Balearic University (UIB) and the principal economic agents on the islands, said Ramis de Ayreflor. He also said that a scientific committee will be charged with deciding which projects the centre will pursue. During the next few months the working parameters for the centre will be established, which will be included in the Plan of Strategy and Action. The object of this is so that national and international experts can propose the first initiatives to be considered by the future Foundation and Committee. Ramis de Ayreflor explained that the aim of the centre is to increase the competitivity of the Balearic tourist and leisure sector through research with scientific assistance in order to put the islands at the top of the tourist league table and to keep them there. Two “high level” managers have been assigned to the centre and will be in charge of analysing the proposals. These will come from the UIB or from the tourist sector so that later the chosen projects can be developed by subcontractors, whether they be University departments or national or foreign companies. The Balearic Minister for Tourism, Joan Flaquer, emphasised the importance of the centre in assisting the Balearics to maintain, through innovation, its competitiveness in the world tourist market “where it is always important to adapt to changes and offer new and different things in order to please a more mature and demanding tourist”. The centre was proposed with the intention of seeking collaboration with the Canary Islands, the other main Spanish tourist destination (both groups of islands between them receive 43 percent of the tourists who come to Spain), although now the main object is to establish collaborative relationships with other similar tourist destinations in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, America, Canada, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Ramis de Ayreflor highlighted the confidence of Brussels in the creation of the centre. Brussels is giving money to the project through SAITUR (which has a budget of 4.7 million euros) which is only giving assistance to another five projects in Spain out of 33 within the whole of the EU.