THE Balearic Minister for Tourism, Joan Flaquer, called on all tourism professionals on the islands to unite for the future of the Balearic tourist industry. He was speaking at the Professional Tourism Forum which ended at the Melia Victoria convention centre yesterday.
He said that the future of the tourist industry should be approached in a “serene manner, without tension, anxiety or pressure, because our power to maintain our place as a leading holiday destination is at stake”. All the speakers at the Forum agreed on the key themes which affect the tourist industry at the moment, and which are revolutionising this activity in all holiday destinations, including the Balearics. Among the speakers were: the President of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Apartments (CEHAT), Jose Guillermo Diaz Montañes; the President of the Federation of Majorcan Hoteliers, Pere Cañellas; the director general of Marketing for Sol Melia, Luis del Olmo; and the Vice President of the Playa de Palma Hoteliers Association, Jose Antonio Fernandez Alarcon. Diaz Montañes mentioned the fact that interest rises could affect the tourist industry because of corresponding rises in monthly payments for mortgages and other family debts. Cañellas confirmed that Majorca “is in the middle of a tourist revolution and a change in business management is urgently needed”.
Del Olmo spoke about the use of new technologies “which will be the future for this sector in this century because of the possibility of on line sales”. And Fernandez Alarcon said that now “there should be cooperation amongst all tourist agents, rather than competition. There must be cooperation between tourism groups and between the public and private sector”. Thomas Cook's director in Spain, Hans Mueller, said that the Balearics should look to the next season with an eye to offering better quality to tourists by adapting their hotels to the demands of the market, and giving the professionals within the sector a better training, as well as making sport a fundamental part of the promotion of the islands. Mueller also highlighted the Germans' “good” perception of the Balearics which, in his opinion, has “marvellous, clean and cared for” beaches, “interesting” natural reserves, and offers a variety of sporting activities. Nevertheless, he added that one of the criticisms of the Balearics made by German tourists is the “lack of hospitality” on the part of its residents, although he said that “it is the perception of the client but it changes when it is stressed that you are dealing with an island race. What needs to be done is to sell the fact that the residents do smile and are friendly”, he added. For his part, the director general of the International Federation of Touroperators (IFTO), Andrew Cooper, said he considered that one of the elements which had contributed to the recovery of tourism on the islands was the proliferation of the low cost airlines, which had undoubtedly had bad repercussions for the hotel industry, as these tourists “don't spend as much time here as those who travel with tour operators”.

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