King Felipe and Queen Letizia meet business leaders from Majorca - Inma Benito of the hoteliers federation (left) and Javier Hidalgo, CEO of Globalia, next to her.

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King Felipe and Queen Letizia officially opened the Madrid Fitur international tourism fair this morning, meeting political and tourism business leaders from the Balearics.

Speaking at the fair, President Armengol stated the case for "balanced tourism" in the Balearics and so for a lengthening of the season, greater quality and employment, and social cohesion. Her statements were against a background of the celebration of the UN's International Year of Sustainable Tourism, in which the Balearic government is participating.

Given that Fitur, where the Balearics are concerned, is about the Spanish holiday market, Armengol was keen to stress the importance of the Spanish market. It represents 15% of all visitors - third behind the German and UK markets - and a government objective is to get Spaniards coming to the islands in the low season. As part of this, the president referred to the need for a reduction in airport charges (a further reduction, that is).

She said that tourism prospects for this year are "very good" and that the strategy of the tourism ministry was producing "results". The minister, Vice-President Barceló, spoke of the need for tourism to increase in quality as opposed to quantity and help in economic diversification.

Barceló also considered the situation with Spanish tourism, noting that there was a 5% rise in 2016. With increased air traffic between airports on the mainland and those in the Balearics, it is anticipated that there will a further rise this year because of visitors in winter and spring.

The minister referred to the number of submissions made for the draft holiday rentals' legislation, saying that not all of them can be accepted because some are contradictory. The legislation, he added, will enable a general framework of regulation that allows island councils and town halls to specify how they want it to be applied. Noting the announcement by the national secretary of state for tourism of potential state legislation, he said that the national government has an important job to do in this regard, but it must be clear as to what powers the regions will have before arriving at a framework for legislative harmonisation.  

By way of conclusion, he said that in 30 to 40 years' time the Balearic Islands should continue to have a quality tourism industry while also conserving the environment and preserving heritage.