THE Balearic government is to spend 4.4 million euros (around three million pounds) on buying Michael Douglas' Costa Nord cultural centre in Valldemossa. As part of the deal, Douglas, will promote the Balearics at major international travel fairs. The deal, unveiled yesterday by Balearic Vice President Rosa Estaras and local minister for tourism, Joan Flaquer, will be signed, sealed and delivered tomorrow at noon at the World Travel Market in London by Douglas and Balearic leader, Jaume Matas. Costa Nord was set-up three years ago by Douglas to promote the beauty of the Tramuntana mountain range on Majorca's west coast and to underline the important role played in the area (Deya and Valldemossa) by Austrian Archduke Luis Salvador. The 19th century nobleman once lived in S'Estaca, now owned by Michael Douglas. The 4.4 million euro plan will also mean that the local government will obtain the rights to the film featuring the “Nixe”, the luxury yacht of Luis Salvador, considered to be of “exceptional importance” for promoting the Balearic Islands. The film is one of the highlights of Costa Nord. Douglas will also be required to attend two annual events at the cultural centre and give two interviews each year until 2006, either for publication or on screen to the international media. The minister for tourism said that the regional government will pay the North American 1.1 million euros annually, which includes tax, over a period of four years. For Flaquer, the accord is “tremendously advantageous,” and will help give the islands' a promotional edge. The minister for tourism said that this year some 100'000 people visited the Costa Nord centre, and these numbers are on the increase. The centre is one focal point of several on the Islands where visitors can gain access through the purchase of a so called “Green Card”, an initiative linked to environmental protection that aims to encourage tourists to explore scenic locations in the Balearics.
The minister revealed that the Balearic government managed to lower the “asking” price being demanded by Valldemossa Produciones S.L., the umbrella company for Costa Nord, after a series of “long and complicated negotiations”. The organisation, claimed Flaquer, had originally wanted to charge 4.8 million euros exclusive of interest rates. Douglas took the “personal decision” to renounce his controlling ownership of Costa Nord, although he accepted the commitment to take part in a promotional tourism drive each year up until 2007. This detail means Douglas making an additional appearance over and above the original terms and conditions of the original agreement, added the minister. The preliminary deal stipulates that after his taking part in the World Travel Market in London next year, Douglas is to spearhead promotion of the Balearics in Berlin, and in 2005 will appear at the Fitur travel market in Madrid. In 2006, he will again crusade on behalf of the Islands in Milan but as yet, his “mission” in 2007 is still to be firmed up. The Tourist minister confirmed that “it is impossible” to have exclusive “use” of Michael Douglas for the sums laid down under the agreement and said that the actor's decision to contribute to the promotion of Bermuda, where he has invested a sizeable sum of money, “is nothing to do” with any collaboration he has undertaken with the Balearic Government. The minister expressed satisfaction with what he described as “an excellent agreement”. He said it has enabled local government to complete a national heritage acquisition (Costa Nord) and reinforce the promotion of quality tourism in the Balearics through Douglas. He was confident that the backing that will be given by Michael Douglas to the Balearic stand at the World Travel Market in London will capture media attention. In a recent Bulletin interview Sir Richard Branson, who for many years owned the Hotel La Residencia in Deya, said that getting Michael Douglas to promote the Balearics was a major coup. He underlined the fact that the actor was deeply in love with the island. “Securing
Douglas is a major coup for the
Balearics” Branson was at a party last summer at Douglas' S'Estaca home attended also by Jaume Matas. It is reported that it was here that Douglas and Matas first discussed the proposal.


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