by Staff Reporter
BALEARIC tourism chief Joan Flaquer told Parliament that the new Thomson Holidays venture, selling Majorcan real estate through its high street outlets, was “not a serious matter” as it corresponded to a specific agreement with Parador Properties. He added that the venture was also being developed in Catalonia, Valencia, Portugal, Cyprus, Andalucia and other Mediterranean holiday destinations.
Flaquer did express some concern at the tour operator's new strategy but denied it would have “serious effects” on the Majorcan tourist sector.
Socialist deputy Celestí Alomar, who was tourism minister under the previous coalition government, said that Thomson's initiative marked the culmination of a “process started by (former conservative leader) Gabriel Cañellas to boost the market of second homes in Majorca.” He then went on to accuse the present Balearic government of overseeing the “dismantling of tourist firms in the island, supporting the real estate sector to the detriment of hoteliers.” But Flaquer hit back, saying more homes were sold to foreigners under the coalition government than in the last two years.
Flaquer also told parliament that tourist spending in the Balearics rose by 3.2 per cent in the first four months of this year, compared to the same period last year, while spending throughout 2004 was 3.3 per cent higher than 2003. Flaquer was answering criticism from Celesti Alomar, who said that spending per tourist and per visit last year had gone down by 1.2 per cent, so that “more people have to come to produce the same results.” However, Flaquer justified the drop by saying that tourists were staying for fewer days and also because of low cost airlines which did not, he said, affect Balearic income. He also accused Alomar of hiding the results of a report which showed that tourist spending dropped by ten per cent in 2002 when he was minister.