STAFF REPORTER

MADRID
MAJORCAN Secretary of State for Tourism, Joan Mesquida formed part of a crisis committee meeting held yesterday by Spain's Minister for Industry, Tourism and Commerce - Miguel Sebastian - aimed at putting a hard-hitting plan into action to attract international tourism for the coming autumn-winter season.

Following the meeting, which was also attended by Antonio Bernabé, the director of promotional vehicle “Turespaña,” ministry sources highlighted the strength of the tourist industry in Spain “in spite of the poor economic situation on an international basis” and “poor forecasts in the light of results from this July.” Also under scrutiny, said the same sources, had been a report on trends in tourism by analysts, Frontur, along with an evaluation of tourist activity during the current season. Figures for visitors coming to Spain over the last seven months have reportedly been stable although a slight overall decline of 0.2 percent was acknowledged. It could not be ignored however, that the results for July had been “negative” especially in relation to French and Italian key client markets where numbers had dropped by 8 percent.

According to the Ministry, the tourist industry in Spain has shown itself to be “very resilient” even when faced with poor results such as those reported for this July. An ongoing analysis on a monthly basis will have to be made, said a spokesman, to register how the price of fuel and the appreciation of the euro are impacting on holiday trends. Research by The National Institute of Statistics showed that overnight stays nationwide by foreign visitors had increased 2.9 percent in July with the Balearics registering the greatest hotel occupation rates for that month at 86.95 percent of capacity.

In July, the Balearics took reservations for 9'176'866 overnight stays with 1'388'557 foreign visitors staying in hotels in the Islands and 234'233 Spaniards. However, Aragon and the Balearics were the regions of the country where hotel prices have most gone up in relation to the same month last year.

The Spanish government meanwhile is to launch its Tourism Overhaul Plan, setting its sights on the year 2020. It aims to remodel mature tourist destinations in the country that are showing signs of “wear” with quality installations and an upgraded service to the client. Renovating and modernising already existing buildings will also inject new life into other sectors of industry such as construction.

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