CELESTÍ Alomar, the former Balearic tourist chief and now a socialist deputy in Parliament, claimed yesterday that the agreement signed between the Hollywood star Michael Douglas, and the Balearic government, is “nothing more than a smoke screen to hide the truth”. Alomar was referring to the agreement signed at the World Travel Market in London this week, when Douglas finalised the sale of his Costa Nord cultural centre in Valldemossa to the Balearic government and became a promotional ambassador for the islands. Alomar claimed that this arrangement masked the reality of the government's failure to produce effective promotional campaigns, as well as its weakness in the face of foreign tour operators. Alomar said that the sale of the cultural centre at Costa Nord, which had been promoted by Douglas, had also been on the previous Balearic government's agenda. At that time, Alomar was coming to the end of his term of office as tourist minister. He stated that it had been his government's belief that investing public funds in the venture would not have furthered their programme for tourism. Instead, the department contemplated offering an agreement to set up a visitors' information centre on the Tramuntana mountains. Alomar, who claimed that the Costa Nord installations were running at a deficit of 1'800 euros a day, considered the price of 4.4 million euros that the Popular Party government will have to pay for the centre and the personal backing of Douglas at some 20 promotional events, “extremely expensive”. He said that his party would like to “see a valuation of the property, and the details of the contract” with the Hollywood star, who spends part of the year at S'Estaca in Valldemossa. The Socialists would like to see what “deal”, if any, Douglas had struck to compensate for the possible planning irregularities on his “s'Estaca” estate and for the closure of his land to the public when it had been declared a site of Cultural Interest, because it once belonged to the Archduke Luis Salvador. Alomar insisted that the Spanish Socialist Workers Party will bring up these questions when it receives all the relevant informtaion it has requested. He emphasized that his criticism centres around the promotional aspect of the agreement. “We believe that a leading tourist destination, such as the Balearics, cannot share its image with other locations” he said, making reference to the promotional work that is also being undertaken by Douglas on behalf of the Bermuda Islands where he has recently purchased property. The Balearic Socialists consider that the figure of Michael Douglas has been ill chosen by the Islands' government because the actor is “on his way out” of Majorca. Furthermore, his image is linked specifically with Majorca as opposed to the Balearic Islands as a whole. Alomar remarked incisively that the payment for Costa Nord has paid for Douglas's “flight” from the island. Alomar also criticised tourism chief Joan Flaquer, claiming that there were no plans for tourist campaigns in any of the main markets.

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