WHO would have thought that at a time when competition within the global tourist industry has never been hotter, the Balearics are putting traditional “sun, sea and sand” marketing to one side in favour of alternatives, the most prominent of which is conference tourism.

At a 2008 marketing strategy presentation held yesterday, regional ministry for Tourism, Francesc Buils said that whilst key clients will remain the British, the Germans and the Spanish, the revised strategy will be given a cutting competitive edge through the use of a world-wide tourism web. Although at that moment he couldn't provide the name of the website, Buils said he could guarantee the star rating of the Balearics on the network.

Joan Sastre, director of Tourism Promotion, said that the website would be directed at the public in general as in recent years, the intermediary tour operators have been moving backstage to make way for the “man in the street” to make his own holiday arrangements on the internet. In what is seen as a major marketing overhaul, Buils said that the most basic objectives of next year's marketing plan, until an even more exhaustive survey is undertaken this coming Spring to cover the years 2009-2012, will focus on upgrading the image of the Balearics as a tourist destination. Buils wants to see the tourist season “stretched to its maximum” away from the routine six months a year and the development of business on the internet.

An important adjunct to the regional marketing strategy for tourism is the fine air route connections with the rest of Europe. Buils envisions Palma acting as a hub for international business with the new conference centre being built at the eastern end of the city's Paseo Marítimo being in a prime position to host all manner of congresses and official receptions.

Tourists, claimed Buils are now searching for holidays with a difference - adventure, sports, culture, “getting back to nature” - and are even combining work and pleasure away from their country of origin.


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