The traditional New Year rush on summer holidays in the United Kingdom is showing no signs of occurring with bookings level for the Balearics still 12 to 15 per cent below the norm. But, while the Balearic summer package holiday market has failed to move since last November, the German market has bombed further with bookings down by 30 per cent. The Balearic ministry for tourism and the main hotel associations are urging hoteliers not to start dropping their prices and to hold out at the top rate for as long as possible. But, few appear willing to take a gamble on the summer and have already started reducing their prices with discounts of up to 50 per cent already being offered on Balearic holidays in the UK in a bid to try and fuel a market revival. The Balearic market is at a complete stand still, local tourism chiefs said yesterday in Palma and the priority for January is to reactivate the market. Both the Turespaña, the Spanish tourist board and Ibatur, the Balearic tourism ministry's promotional wing, are intending to use the forthcoming travel fairs in Madrid and Germany to launch a summer offensive on the market and on February 15, multi-million pound promotional campaigns will be launched in the UK, Germany, France and Italy. Travel experts in the UK said before Christmas that the British would start booking their summer holidays in the New Year. The current reality is they have; Turkey has reported a 12 per cent increase in summer bookings with a huge rise in demand from the UK. The main reason is that Turkey has dropped its prices and, as is the case with Egypt, the governments are helping to subsidise the tourism industries in order to help them through the current crisis. The German market in the Balearics started to decline long before September 11, so a further drop is no surprise. But it was the British market's six per cent-plus growth which compensated for the German decline. There are no signs of consumer uncertainty in the UK, spending levels over Christmas reached record levels and one million Britons jetted away for the festive season, just as they did in 2000. British consumers are spending money and are prepared to travel, so why is the Balearics not selling? Tourism sources in Palma yesterday claimed that the Balearic market has been one of the hardest hit by September 11 and the war in Afghanistan. “The Europeans have delayed making holiday decisions and a lot of us fear that there will be a big rush at the last minute, which has very much been the case in the Canaries,” Joan Pascual, member of the Majorcan Tourist Board, said. He added that one of the biggest challenges the Balearics is facing is fighting off the stiff price competition from other destinations “such as Turkey and Bulgaria.”


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