It's half term in Britain, the skies of Majorca a sky blue and there are plenty of British tourists soaking up the late October sunshine. While Majorcan hoteliers complain about the lack of clients and talk about a crisis in the tourist industry, the British Association of Travel Agents, ABTA, said yesterday half term is very busy in the United Kingdom and the Balearics, in particular Majorca, is doing very well. ABTA's Frances Tuke said that the majority of Britons intending to spend half term abroad, booked their holidays before September 11 and have gone ahead with their travel plans. Spain and the Balearics will see little change, she said.
It's all systems go in Britain, she added. So, in the short term, with regards to the British market, which posted a six per cent increase in tourists this year, for the time being the Balearic tourist industry has little to worry about. But, the long term is looking unstable. The mass exodus of tourists from Turkey and the Middle East, for example Egypt, and North Africa the Balearic authorities are quietly banking on, is showing little sign of happening. Tuke said that there have been relatively few cancellations to Turkey and Egypt it's business as usual and clients have made the decision not to travel off their own back and have therefore lost money. Once people realise that the conflict is confined to Afghanistan and travellers regain their confidence, ABTA sees little reason for a huge switch to the Western Mediterranean. Tour operators however could dictate the market for next summer. Some have cut back slightly on their programmes in Turkey and Egypt, but Majorcan hoteliers said yesterday that Europe's leading tour operators have adopted a wait-and-see policy to the Balearics as well. A number of tour opertors are currently renegotiating their payment conditions with hoteliers. A spokesperson for the Majorcan Hotel federation said yesterday that usually all payments are settled by the end of this month, but the tour operators have postponed payments to the end of November or December. As far as ABTA is concerned, from East to West across the Mediterranean all the normal holiday terms apply. In the UK there has been a 13 per cent drop in late bookings since the US attacks and both winter sun and package holiday bookings for next summer are down 30 per cent to all destinations.