President Armengol, Gabriel Escarrer and others at Palma's Palacio de Congresos yesterday. | Miquel A. Cañellas


President Armengol and Vice-President Barceló were among various dignitaries shown around Palma's Palacio de Congresos yesterday. Armengol said that the Palacio will become one of the best convention centres in Europe. It is something of which all the citizens of the Balearics should be proud.

Gabriel Escarrer, the CEO of Meliá Hotels International, observed that "an important challenge" lies ahead. Together with the town hall, though, "we will make it possible". Feedback which Meliá has been receiving, he suggested, points to Palma becoming "the place for conventions". The programme for this year has fourteen "very important" events, most of them towards the end of the year. In addition to the Volkswagen exhibition, there are ones for the medical and pharmaceutical sectors.

The Palacio opens on 1 April. Escarrer was unable to say when or if King Felipe and Queen Letizia can attend an official opening. "We want to highlight the significance of such a unique building, and we are waiting on the Royal Household to say if there are dates for an official opening."

Armengol stressed the contribution that the Palacio will make in tackling seasonality and to the advancement of "quality tourism", something backed by the government, the town hall and the whole of the Balearic tourism sector. "Tourism of this type will bring greater benefits," she noted. The Palacio will become somewhere that will guarantee there being shows, fairs and cultural events "of great renown". She congratulated Meliá for its strong commitment to what will be "one of the best" convention centres in Europe.

Mayor José Hila stressed the impact of the Palacio on employment. There are 200 new jobs at the complex. He noted that it will act as "a bridge of union" between Palma's two main tourism parts - the city centre and Playa de Palma.