The message from Germany's leading tour operators to Balearic hoteliers, is not to worry about the 20 per cent drop in holiday bookings. According to TUI and Neckermann, the principal reason for the current short fall is that last minute booking is becoming increasingly popular in Germany and the tour operators said it would be a mistake for hoteliers to start reducing their prices. Ironic, considering that hotel prices in the Balearics went up by 1.6 per cent in January, taking the overall rise in hotel rates to 10.3 per cent over the past 12 months. The continual increase in hotel prices will help to add weight to the Balearic hotel sector's message at this weekend's Berlin tourism fair, that they are not prepared to start slashing hotel rates in order to kick start the market. Spokesperson for TUI, Juan Carlos Alia, said yesterday the hotel sector has to understand that booking holidays just before the date of departure is becoming increasingly common in Germany, suggesting that the 20 per cent gap will be breached at the last minute. Clients no longer book their holidays well in advance, so the hotel sector should not give the 20 per cent drop too much importance, Alia added. A spokesperson for Neckermann echoed similar sentiments, advising local hoteliers not to worry about their business, adding that the summer season will be very similar to last year. Alia claims that at the Berlin tourism fair, one of the most important in the world, the hotel sector will hear for themselves further reassurances that the forthcoming season will pan out to be a good one.But Alia did point out that Balearic hoteliers ought not to completely ignore the competition from other destinations such as Turkey, Greece, Tunisia and the Canaries, where hotel prices, apart from falling slightly in January, have only been increased by 0.8 per cent over the past 12 months.