SOME 62 percent of Balearic residents see sports tourism as having a positive impact on the economy, although the majority of them doubt that its development will bring social benefits and have a neutral opinion about the environmental effects of this activity. This was reported in a study done by the Permanent Observatory for Sport and Tourism, which was presented yesterday during the first session of the Balearic Islands Forum 2006, which is taking place in Palma. This study says that the images of tourism and sport should be merged, which will lay the foundations for the promotion of sporting activity as an additional attraction for the islands and the demand that it generates can then be used as a reason to improve and widen the sporting facilities for the local population. As for tourist interest, the study highlights that rambling is the type of activity most in demand by both tourists and residents. This is followed, for the tourists, by sailing, golf and other water activities, whereas the islanders opt for swimming, basketball and football. With regard to the effect of sports tourism on the landscape, the study says that nearly 60 percent of Balearic residents, and around three quarters of those on Minorca, think that the environment will not be affected. By islands, the Minorcans are those who are most neutral about what sort of sporting tourism should be promoted. In accordance with this study, sailing, tennis and swimming are the main sports associated with Majorca, while basketball, horse racing and sailing are more associated with Minorca. Beach sports, and sailing and diving are those which are most associated with Ibiza, according to the study, which adds that Formentera is identified mainly with snorkelling and fishing. In the case of golf tourism, some 34 percent of Majorcans were of the opinion that it will grow, while on Minorca this opinion was held by only 1.4 percent. The study also said that the type of sporting tourism product which has the greatest support from the Balearic population is the tourism generated by events and sporting shows, which three quarters of the residents said should be promoted.

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