Two of Britain's princial tour firms warned the Balearics yesterday that they were now facing stiff opposition from holiday destinations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Thomson, Britain's biggest tour firm, and JMC, the third biggest operator, both said that they were committed to the Balearics but warned prices must remain competitive otherwise the islands' could loose market share. Simon Vincent of JMC said that they were opposed to the tourist tax or eco-tax which the Balearic government plan to introduce for summer 2002. He said that it could have a marked affect on holiday bookings to the Balearics and called on the local government to shelve the idea. Shaun Powell, Managing Director of Thomson, was more guarded and said that they were not against the tax in principle but warned that any increase in cost may hit bookings. Despite being up-beat on the Balearics both companies warned that the Eastern Mediterranean was now an extremely attractive alternative for British holidaymakers as a number of new quality hotels have been built. Thomson estimated that an average British family could make a saving of 250 pounds on an equivalent holiday in the eastern Mediterranean.

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