JOAN Flaquer said that his department would continue to cultivate the traditional markets such as Britain and German, and also promote “alternative” tourism, such as sporting holiday package deals, or business conferences.
- Are you going to base all your promotion in tourism on the image of Michael Douglas?
We are following a stable, clearly marked out route to recover the excellent image and business confidence that the Islands' once enjoyed. We also want to correct false signals that seem to have been emitted over the past five months. For this reason, we are keen to approach the aspect of image improvement on all fronts. With this in mind, an agreement with Michael Douglas has been signed, a nationally-recognised cycling team has been established, and significant investment in promotion has been made.
- Is it possible to close professional agreements with tour operators now?
Yes, the progress that we have made means that now it is. The results of our work will come to fruition in such agreements.
- Germany and the United Kingdom account for the largest part of the promotional investment. What will be allocated to alternative holiday and emerging markets?
Promotional plans take the diversification of the tourist market into consideration. There is a great deal of potential for growth in Spain and we are going to tap into that source. Part of that strategy will be to build on trade from France and Italy. With regard to emerging markets, there are agendas already set to capture short and medium term business from Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Russia.
- Is it really so difficult to recuperate the tarnished image of the Balearic Islands?
To destroy a reputable tourist image is easy. It's much harder to build it up again, largely because it's such an uphill struggle. On top of that, it's a task that “everyone” has got to be involved in. And when I say “everyone”, that includes the business sector, local government and the people of the islands themselves. As an island community, we have to take stock of exactly what is meant by tourism and how it can benefit the Islands.
- Will there be changes in the major holiday periods?
We want the Balearics to be a very visible landmark within the structure of holiday-making. We've already accomplished that very successfully at the recent World Travel Market in London. We're going to improve the design of our stand in readiness for other trade fairs and make sure that we we can offer what is being demanded.
- Individual tourism and renting holiday property is extremely popular. What is to be done to cater for this area?
The best way for us to promote this type of tourism is to ensure that the quality and quantity we can offer meets with demand. It is of key importance that the potential client market knows what is on offer on the Islands for them. To facilitate this, we are going to use all means at our disposal, both traditional and technological. We know that there has been a change in the ways that people are taking their holidays and we can't sit on the sidelines and ignore it. We've got to make sure that holiday homes meet certain standards and one way we can do that is by forcing owners to comply with legislation.
- Will you be able to wipe out illegal trading in the holiday industry?
The Ministry (of Tourism) will come down very hard on people who are flouting the law by not providing clients with a minimum standard of service. We will ensure rigorous inspection programmes as well as stiff penalties. For those establishments who seek to “legalise” their installations, we can offer an open forum to reach consensus on what is acceptable to the ministry, and what is not.
- How will the 2004 season fare?
We're in a period of uncertainty at the moment which makes it very difficult to make predictions. I have faith that we will get the 2004 tourist season off to a good start, but we've got to be tough enough to “hang on in there” and not lower prices.
- Will it be possible to recover the market in “out of season tourism”?
It's one of the challenges that faces us in the future. We've got to see, amongst everything else, what we are capable of. We're going to have to work pretty hard to reverse the fortunes of the last few years, but we'll give our backing to all tourist products that seek to establish all-year-round tourism.
- What is your opinion of the impact of the “all-inclusive” package holiday on the tourist industry?
Although I worry about the nature of the product, it is clear that some clients, particularly in family groups, decide to take an all-inclusive holiday even before they think about where they are going to take it. We're now faced with a reality and we've got to make allowances for it. It's no use looking at the concept of “all-inclusive” as the demon of tourism; that would be a serious mistake. The Ministry is going to make sure that establishments offering this alternative are providing facilities that fall in line with government guidelines so that the client can be assured of his money's worth.
- Are you under pressure following the presentation of the plan to restructure the Playa de Palma tourist area?
The plan is about bringing alternative quality to an already-established tourist area. Nothing will be done in this area without dialogue and consensus. Discussions are open to everyone. Nobody is going to have anything taken away from them without consent.

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