Joan Collins EXPERTS at the Balearic University (UIB) warned that the Balearics have reached a “saturation point” with sun and sand tourism. It said that only the promotion of policies and business strategies directed at innovations and increasing the quality of the offer will be able to stop its “decline as a mass tourist destination”. The Applied Economics team of the UIB, headed by Natividad Juaneda, has verified that the Balearics, as a stereotype of a mature sun and sea tourist destination, has reached a point of “stagnation”. Only improving the quality of the existing offer and avoiding an “excessive deterioration” in its natural resources will enable it to maintain the level of competitivity desired, according to the UIB. According to Juaneda, the tourist loyalty factor, which brings them back year after year, is “key” in the case of the islands. The Balearics are considered a “mass holiday destination, with cheap prices and scanty environmental protection”, which would suggest, she said, that the loyal tourist comes to the islands “to rest”, and when he knows the place, “looks for the cheapest offer, with the consequent fall in income for the islands”. However, according to Juaneda, this logical relationship has not come about in the Balearics if one takes into account that tourist spending in the islands in 2005 was, for the first time, above 1'000 million euros. So everything seems to indicate that the “quality of the hotels, the tidiness of the place and the level of public services” are more important than “cheap destinations”. “The knowing tourist calculates, in a pre-meditated way, where he wants to go to satisfy his leisure needs”, said Juaneda. She added that if this destination of sun and sand does not take into account the new tastes and requirements of the tourist by offering innovative projects and attractions, it will lose all its competitivity. The UIB team concluded that tourists who are most worried about the preservation of the surrounding area or the quality of hotel services are those who spend most. For them “classic” factors such as their income or the cost of changing money (in the case of the pound for the British) are “less important” when it comes to choosing a destination, and they come back.