With some hotels still closed in the Balearics, the summer season is nearing its crunch date with a price war over package holidays for next summer already raging in the United Kingdom. If there are still tens of thousands of unsold package holidays on the UK high street next week, as there were at the start of last month, British tourism experts say that, as far as the tour operators are concerned, the summer is over and it is time to start pushing ahead with selling the winter and even looking ahead to next summer. Leading UK tour operator MyTravel, formerly Airtours, has already sparked a package holiday price war for next year by cutting summer 2003 holiday prices by as much as 30 per cent. Believe it or not, while the Balearic authorities are trying to salvage what is left of this season - despite the hotel strikes looming - summer 2003 holiday brochures are already on the shelves in United Kingdom travel agents. MyTravel is expected to introduce the price cuts in the second edition of its summer 2003 with holidays as much as 30 per cent cheaper than for this summer. MyTravel is hoping to undercut the first edition prices of rivals Thomson Holidays, part of the World of TUI, and First Choice. MyTravel is also hoping to benefit from its “all-in” approach. Some tour operators intend to move away from the traditional package holiday to offer a base rate holiday to which clients add, and pay for, what they require. Some operators next year will be charging clients extra for hot meals on their flights and airport transfers, but MyTravel looks set to stick to providing all-in packages so as not to confuse travellers. But, the summer holiday market, especially in the Balearics, is going to struggle and be discount-orientated for the next three seasons with Europe's leading tour operators, all of which have cut capacity this summer in order to consolidate their markets, not intending to increase capacity until 2005.


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