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TOURISM chief Joan Flaquer yesterday played down comments made by Hollywood star Michael Douglas at the Berlin ITB travel fair, which had caused some unease in Ibizan tourist circles. The popular actor, goodwill ambassador for the Balearics, had praised Majorca, where he has spent between two weeks and six months every year for the past three decades, and Minorca, and said jokingly of Ibiza that he was “too old for it, although my 25-year-old son tells me it is the best place in the world.” Flaquer said that the comment had been a joke, and was just an anecdote in an appearance at the travel fair which he described as “sincere”, adding that it would be “very hard to beat its promotional impact.” He added that the actor's appearance had been praised by hoteliers, travel agents and the media.
Flaquer also said that Douglas “spoke from the heart“ to explain what he felt for Majorca, and his experiences in Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. He also said that the “only indication” Douglas had received from the government before attending such acts was to remind him that in his speech he should refer to the four islands. The Balearic government purchased Costa Nord, the cultural centre set up by Douglas in Valldemossa, for 4.4 million euros, and as part of the deal, the actor agreed to appear as goodwill ambassador at various travel fairs. Flaquer said that the general impression at the fair was “positive,” and there were signs of an increase in bookings in Germany.
There are clear signs of a “spectacular recovery” in Majorca, he said, adding that there have been reports of increases of up to 30 percent in bookings by some tour operators. He went on to say that the start of the season in the German market was also earlier, “one of the most important objectives of the government's tourist policy.” Bookings for Minorca and Ibiza are going more slowly, he said.
At all events, he added, the work of the past eight months in recovering the image of the islands in Germany is giving good results.