By Humphrey Carter

THE Balearic government yesterday pledged its full support to the nautical tourism industry by unveiling plans for a new promotional body.
The organisation is being created by the ministries for the environmental and tourism in cooperation with the Balearic Port Authority and Ibatur, the tourism ministry's promotional wing.

Announcing the new initiative, the Balearic Minister for Tourism, Francesc Buils said that the government's decision to create the new body is a clear indication of its commitment to the nautical tourism sector.

He explained that the body's main mandate is to promote and encourage the development of sustainable nautical tourism and help the sector grow in harmony with the environment.

Last year, nearly 300'000 “nautical” tourists came to the Balearics and 80 percent were from either Britain or Germany.
According to data provided by the tourism ministry yesterday, the average stay of a nautical holiday maker is 15 days and the average daily expenditure is 146.5 euros- 119.5 of which is spent here in the Balearics.

In total, the nautical tourism sector generated 527 million euros last year, 14.5 percent more than in 2006 and similar growth is expected over the course of this year. Buils said that there are 20'000 moorings in the Balearics and admitted that during the peak summer months, the region's ports and marinas are saturated and are unable to meet demand.

The Balearic Minister for the Environment, Miguel Angel Grimalt, stressed the need for urgent steps to be taken to reform and remodel existing ports and marinas in order to create extra space for new moorings.

However, the minister made it clear that during this present legislature, no new marinas will be built nor will any major port or marina expansion projects be sanctioned.

Grimalt said that, apart from paving the way for more moorings in existing marinas, the new body will also be studying various ways of prolonging the nautical tourism season in order to ease the pressure on the peak summer months. The Balearic government directly controls 13 ports and harbours and all of these are going to be reformed and remodeled to make room for extra berths with services and facilities improved. The decision has been welcomed by the nautical industry which has been calling for help from the Balearic authorities for many years.