By Humphrey Carter PALMA

THE Balearic Minister for Tourism, Joana Barcelo, yesterday called on the regional holiday industry to make a concerted effort to improve services after data released yesterday showed that tourism spending in the Balearics was down by nearly 13 percent, bucking the national trend which has shown a 5.4 percent increase since the start of the year.

Over the past week, various sectors of the Balearic tourism industry appear to have sparked into life as the dust of the volcanic ash crisis settled and launched a number of new initiatives and campaigns to boost tourism this year and yesterday, Barcelo called on the sector for one final push.

She was forced to admit that the latest set of tourism spending figures “are not good news for the Balearics.” Last month, regional tourism spending fell by a further 1.5 percent and yesterday Barcelo said that the Balearics has to make a concerted effort to encourage people to spend and one way of doing that is improving services.

The Minister also revealed that the Institute for Tourism Studies is currently working on a detailed break down on tourism spending, or rather, the lack of it. The conclusions and findings of which will be discussed at the next meeting of the Tourism Commission.

Barcelo received the full backing of the President of the Balearics, Francesc Antich yesterday. He said that he approves of any new measures to promote the islands this summer but he ruled out any public funds being used to help compensate those sectors of the industry who suffered losses during the volcanic ash lock down of European airspace.

The Secretary of State for Tourism, Joan Mesquida, yesterday revealed that the volcanic ash cloud cost the Spanish tourist industry 200 million euros.
Mesquida said that nearly half a million tourists were unable to travel to Spain during the crisis but he added that many have been able to reschedule their Spanish holiday and will therefore be coming at a later date.

A report published in the UK yesterday states that Summer sales in Britain were looking increasingly healthy before volcanic ash spread over Europe, with a three percent year-on-year rise in bookings in March, according to market analyst GfK Ascent-MI and Mesquida does not believe the crisis will affect bookings to Spain, as some experts have claimed.