Top economists and travel experts in the United Kingdom said yesterday that the 17 per cent drop in British holiday bookings for the Balearics for next summer is pretty much as expected but the figures are purely short term and there is no need for alarm. When the Balearic delegation reaches the World Travel Market next week brandishing the report, such is the response it will receive from the UK industry. The 17 per cent drop is a very short term figure. The Association of British Travel Agents' Sean Tipton said yesterday that, this time of year is always very slow with regards to holiday bookings, regardless of current global events, and that the first real indication as to how summer 2002 holidays are selling will not come until January and February. The Centre for Economic Business Research (CEBR) in London has recently carried out its study and has forecast that, over all, summer bookings will be down by just five per cent next year. Tipton admitted that come February, if the experts have got it wrong, then there will be grounds for concern but at the end of September bookings were down by 30 per cent, now the decline is around 15 per cent, so they have already started to pick up, he added. And obviously the Balearics is always going to be a top destination. owever, if by next summer, bookings have not picked up, the problem will not be that the British are not travelling, but rather have decided to go elsewhere and that is something the Balearic Ministry for Tourism needs to be making sure does not happen, as was the case last year with the German market which shows no signs of returning.