WE ARE PROTECTING OUR LEADING INDUSTRY AND MAIN SOURCE OF INCOMETIFFANY Blackman, the director general of Ibatur, the Balearic Tourism Institute, said that the Balearics are attracting attention at a national and world level because we are protecting our leading industry and our main source of income. She said that the Fitur tourism fair in Madrid had been positive in many aspects, despite the threat of war with Iraq. She said that there were two scenarios for the tourist season: with or without war. But, she said, there had been an optimistic air at Fitur. We are in a period of change, which has affected all spheres, but everything will be marked by what will happen over the next few months or weeks, she said. The director general said that the Balearics now had a corporate image and a much more positive attitude, adding that promotion in Spain will be boosted, using new technology to the utmost. The Spanish market is now being courted, and an effort is being made to increase the number of Spanish visitors especially in the low season. Spanish tourism is the natural market for the Balearics, and the message will be that there is room for them in the islands, as in previous seasons there have been complaints of rejection, as foreign tour operators snatched up most of the beds. Ms Blackman said that the hoteliers had shown common sense at Fitur, which is not the place to air grievances, but to discuss promotion and image. However, she expressed surprise that the hoteliers did not take part in general promotional campaigns, and although they said they would mount their own campaigns without the Balearic government they have done nothing. She denied that the tourist tax had given the Balearics a bad image. Asked if it was possible to recover the good image of the Balearics in Germany, Ms Blackman said it was possible, but only if tour operators and the media stopped sending out confused images. Everything comes in cycles she said. The bad image was caused by problems which set in in 1999, a record year, when there were complaints because of saturation, lack of water, power failures. Last year was a frustrating one for Ibatur, because the media and travel agents showed no interest for the product, and the tour operators sent confused images, Ms Blackman said. Finally, she criticised the central government for the negative messages it is sending about the Balearics.
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