By Humphrey Carter

BALEARIC captains of the tourist industry yesterday warned the local industry as a whole that it needs to start preparing to reestablish its position as a market leader in the post-credit crunch future.

The Hotel Melià Victoria Convention Centre in Palma has been hosting a regional business summit to discuss “how to grow when the markets are not growing” this week and yesterday, the over riding messages from leading hoteliers, tour operators, bankers and economists was that the industry has to start preparing itself for the future that the Balearics continues to be a major player in global tourism.

Over 200 delegates were reminded that the recession is global and nearly all tourist destinations and associated industries are feeling the pinch, but while the credit crunch runs its course, the Balearic tourist sector has been warned to remain active so that it is able to immediately respond once the recession is over.

Yesterday, Balearic President Francesc Antich accompanied the Minister for Tourism, Miguel Nadal to the convention and both heard the tourist industry also being warned against becoming complacent and “thinking that we know best and better than the client.” “We need to be more prudent and remember to ask the client, the client has to come first,” Banco March director Francisco Verdu told delegates.
In his speech, Antich told the tourist industry that the credit crunch will be beaten “by careful planning and government”. He said that these are the keys to over coming the economic crisis here in the Balearics and in the rest of the world. “The credit crunch has made us all review our plans and policies, especially with regards to growth but, here in the Balearics, we need to realise the true value of certain advantages we have, such as a solid tourism industry, and make the most of it,” Antich said. “We need to be digging deep into the vast wealth of experience we have in the industry and use it to move forward while laying the foundations for a sustainable future,” he added.

The Tourism Minister, Miguel Angel Nadal, claimed that the latest tourism figures are “satisfactory.” It appears that people are booking much, much later but Nadal said, “when you consider what's going on, and people are booking just a month before travelling, the figures are OK.” He said that last month's tourism numbers were not particularly poor and expressed his confidence that hotels will fill up for the peak summer months, although he pledged that his departments will continue pushing and promoting the Balearics overseas because many Europeans have yet to book a summer holiday.