THE Balearic government gave the green light yesterday to its regional ministries for Tourism and the Environment for the creation of a new promotional vehicle to develop nautical tourism in the Islands. It will operate in tandem with the Balearic Ports Authority and the Islands' Institute for Tourism (Ibatur).

Coalition government spokesman, Margarita Najera, announcing the creation of “IB-Blau” yesterday, explained that nautical tourism in the region had undergone important growth over the last few years. The government acknowledged that this sector drew visitors and residents to the Islands who have high “buying power”. Attracting such clientele to the region, Najera said, is also beneficial for other areas of tourism such as trading outlets and the restaurant industry. “IB-Blau,“ said the spokesman, is to act as a hub for development, whilst always bearing in mind that promotion of the industry needs to be done within strict environmental guidelines.

Currently in the Balearics, there are 20'000 mooring points of which 12'000 are government controlled, either directly or indirectly. In 2007, the Balearics played host to 294'118 visitors who had come to enjoy boating facilities in the region, 0.4 percent more than the previous year. The average stay was 15 days. Last year, income generated from this sector of tourism reached 527 million euros, revealing an increase of 14.5 percent on 2006. The daily spend per capita averaged out at 146.5 euros of which 119.5 were claimed directly by the coffers of the Balearic Islands.

The majority - 80 percent - of boating tourists are foreign. Britons and Germans predominate the market. According to Najera, port management restructuring undertaken by the regional ministry for the Environment will allow most of the high demand for mooring sites to be met.

The Balearic government has discounted the possibility of building new sporting marinas or major extensions to ones already in existence in its present term of office. The 13 ports under regional control: Cala Figuera, Puerto de Andratx, Puerto de Soller, Cala Ratjada, Puerto de Pollensa, Port Cristo, Cala Bona, Colonia de Sant Jordi, Portocolom, Portopetro, Fornells, Ciutadella and Sant Antoni de Portmany, have been the subject of improvements with the installation of floating mooring facilities and other upgrades to meet client requirements.