President of IFTO, the International Federation of Tour Operators, Martin Brackenbury, said yesterday that the Balearic coach strike at the end of June has left a “vast hole” in holiday bookings “with results worse than expected.” Brackenbury said that while during the coach strike, holiday bookings in Spain and Germany trickled on, in Britain the market froze. The IFTO president also reported that a recent survey which was carried out three weeks after the strike finished, showed a third of all potential visitors to the Balearics thought the industrial dispute was still ongoing. Brackenbury said that quite simply, the coach strike cost the Balearics 28 per cent of the potential last minute holidaymaker “which is a very high figure.” He also admitted that the recent campaign by the Basque separatist group ETA to target tourist resorts and airports “has not helped,” neither has the advice from the Foreign Office to beware when in Spain. Brackenbury also said that the Balearics', and to a lesser extent Spain's worst fears of growing competition from new markets are well founded. The IFTO boss said that the two years of political instability in Croatia and Turkey helped fuel Spanish tourism, but now that the situation has calmed down in the Eastern Mediterranean, Spain is losing tourists this year to these markets. Brackenbury said that the bigger winner of the German decline in the Balearics is Turkey which is a more economically viable destination for cash-strapped Germans. But, Croatia is proving increasingly popular with the British and is rapidly developing as one of the new sailing destinations. The number of British tourists going to Croatia this year has risen by 31 per cent and by the end of next year, Turkey will be attracting 20 million tourists per annum.


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