By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
CENTRAL government gave the Balearics a very welcome Christmas present yesterday in the form of a 54 million euro cash injection into the region's tourist industry for the coming year.

The President of the Balearics, Francesc Antich, and the Secretary General for Tourism, Joan Mesquida, secured the deal in Palma yesterday morning.
Mesquida, a Majorcan himself, highlighted the fact that the Balearics is one of Spain's most important tourist destinations, domestically and internationally, and therefore warrants substantial central government investment.

Of the 54 million euros, 10 is going to be spent on Playa de Palma renovation project, 12 will be pumped into the creation of a new Platform for Logistical Tourism Distribution (TURISTEC), 20 will be used to secure the future and quick completion of Palma's new controversial convention centre and the remaining 20 is going to be invested in promoting the region's alternative and new tourism attractions and activities as opposed to just pushing the region as a sun and sea destination. The Secretary of State for Tourism said yesterday that the four financial packages which make up the total sum, are the result of the close working relationship between Palma and Madrid and the Balearics' need for extra help in bolstering its tourist industry which is the foundation of the region's economy and job creation.

The completion of this latest deal means that between 2009 and the end of 2011, the Balearics will have received 98 million euros in state aid for tourism.

Antich was extremely satisfied with the financial agreement and said that work on the new TURISTIC body will begin in April and that it should be fully operational by the end of the year.

TURISTEC will be charged with developing and driving new tourism technology, especially in the business world while offering new Internet and social media services for the local travel industry such as hotels and travel agents. The idea is to provide them with better retail and marketing services at a minimal cost to them.

The tourism promotional budget will be divided between the four islands and invested in a new wave of products.

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