STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
DEPUTY Prime Minister Manuel Chaves said yesterday that it is for the European Union to decided on an aid package for airlines crippled by the eruption of a volcano in Iceland which forced the closure of Western and Northern European airspace
Chaves said that it is for all governments within the EU to deliberate on just what the economic effects of the crisis have had on their airlines. When data has been gathered, the issue will be discussed by the EU who will then decide whether or not to provide an aid package for the tourist sector.

Chaves said that for Spain, the eruption of the volcano 10 days ago and the air travel chaos which ensued had come at a time when the tourist industry in Spain was just starting to recover from an economic crisis. Prior to the onset of the tourist season in the Balearics, tour operators with key clients in the United Kingdom and Germany forced hoteliers in the Islands to lower their prices. Although more holiday makers will be coming to the Islands this year than last, said Chaves, the downside is that they will be spending less. Nevertheless, he pointed to the fact that prior to the eruption of the volcano there had been a “positive” shift in holiday bookings.

Meanwhile, Balearic President Francesc Antich said that his ministry for Tourism would be making a detailed report on just what problems have been created for the industry as a result of the ash cloud. “Each time the Balearics has been in difficulty in this respect,” claimed Antich, “Central Government has come to our aid with special measures such as overseas promotions.” He quoted the example of the full collaboration between Central and regional governments and the hotel federations to boost tourism on Minorca where holiday bookings have declined noticeably in recent years.

Antich said that the Islands remain undeterred and Tourism ministry representatives are preparing a two-day visit to Moscow to promote the Balearic holiday offer to the Russians.