Palma.—This year, the Port of Palma expects to handle a total of 1.8 million cruise passengers, well up on last year's 1.5 million and a significant increase on the 1.3 million cruise tourists the capital's port handled in 2009.

And, yesterday, the Palma Councillor for Tourism, Alvaro Gijon, said that the annual growth rate in the sector of around 20 percent is a clear indication that the cruise industry has been recession proof over the past few years.

The Councillor made the remarks while visiting the liner Costa Serena on board which he held a meeting with the Director General of Costa Cruises' Spanish operations, Bernardo Echevarria.

This year, Costa is just one of a number of leading global cruise liners to have committed themselves to using Palma either as a base or a regular port of call.

Gijon used the meeting to stress to Costa Cruises the importance of the industry to Palma and that the city council is determined to make sure it continues to flourish in Palma.

Gijon added that the cruise industry is offering Palma a “unique opportunity” because the industry does not devour vast areas of land and that cruise passengers tend to spend more than the “traditional” land based visitor to the island.

That said, the Councillor admitted that he recognises the fact that port's infrastructure needs to be continually improved and expanded to cater for the new breed of super liners and, funds permitting, these improvements will be made to increase cruise traffic.

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