Leading tour firms warned the Balearics yesterday that the strike by 60'000 service sector employees could fuel a mass exodus of holidaymakers. The association of Spanish tour operators said yesterday that tourists will think again about the Balearics and opt for either the mainland or the Canaries or even other Mediterranean resorts. The association's secretary general, Ruperto Donat, is also worried that while the eight days of strike action will primarily cause further damage to the Balearics' struggling industry, Spain as a whole will suffer as this next wave of industrial action comes on the back of a service sector dispute on the Costa del Sol and the ten-day strike by refuse collectors in Malaga last month. Donat said that despite holiday prices reaching record lows this summer, few people will travel to the Balearics to be greeted by industrial action in their hotels. The secretary general of Zontur, the Spanish association of resort hotels, warned that the Balearics will take years to recover from the strike. Ramón Estalella said that last summer's disastrous coach strike is still fresh in people's minds across Europe and that further industrial action will have terrible consequences for the region's tourist industry. He also echoed the fears of the tour operators, pointing out that the days which have been chosen for industrial action coincide with the peak of the season and last minute holiday bookers, who we are desperately waiting for, will simply choose to go elsewhere. The unions' demand of a six per cent pay rise was slammed as absurd considering the negative climate in the Balearics tourist industry which is having to ride a drop in bookings and revenue this year. Estalella called on the unions to think again and consider all the implications of industrial action if the situation gets any worse because of union action, the first to suffer will be staff.
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