BALEARIC President Francesc Antich said yesterday that he hoped tourism was high on the agenda of the top level meeting that the Spanish Prime Minister held with the country's top businessmen yesterday, given the industry's importance to the country's Gross Domestic Product (PIB).

PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero met with senior representatives of Spain's largest and most successful businesses in Madrid to map out the country's economic future. Included in the blue chip companies were tourist businesses of international standing Globalia, Majorca's Sol Melia, and Hoteles Riu.

The Balearic President said yesterday in Palma after a meeting on tackling climate change, that it was important that “everyone” realised how important the tourist industry is for Spain as it accounted for 12 percent of the PIB. “Unlike other industries which may have already seen their heyday, tourism is a business for the future,” said Antich.

The President claimed that despite the difficulties being experienced regionally and nationally as a result of the financial crisis, resulting in a “freeze” in the number of tourists coming to Spain, it remained the industry which was best “bearing up” under economic strain.

The fact that Sol Melia, Globalia and Hoteles Riu were being included in the top level meeting, said Antich, clearly demonstrates that Zapatero acknowledges that the tourist industry is a “heavyweight” in the Spanish econcomy. Antich said that following the top level meeting, Zapatero's government is intending to liaise with all regions of the country on how best to boost the economy, but without imposing any hard and fast rules. Emphasis will be given to potentially successful ventures, explained Antich.