Just as hoteliers in the Balearics were getting used to having a full house this weekend and hopes were high of an end of season late booking surge in Europe, there were fears yesterday that the floods in Germany will wash away the late bookings. What is more, while in the short term, the floods will hit the last minute holiday market, in the long term, they will also add to Germany's economic woes.

With unemployment at record highs, the country in recession and a slump in the holiday market, the economic repercussions for flood victims could mean that for many, holidays next summer are off the agenda. Sources for the Majorcan Hotel Federation yesterday said that while the last minute bookers only account for 40 per cent of the total market, the Balearic tourist industry, suffering as it is this year, has been banking on last minute holidaymakers in the UK and Germany in particular, to help save the summer. Normally, the last minute sector accounts for just 12 per cent of holidaymakers to Majorca this year it is estimated that 40 per cent will be late bookers. Hoteliers and the The Balearic tourist industry as a whole has found it extremely difficult planning this season because only 60 per cent of clients had booked their holiday at least three months in advance. Some hoteliers are also worried that, looking ahead to next summer, the leading German tour operators, may hold back on contracting hotels and bed spaces this winter, unsure of how the already troubled market will perform in the New Year. Traditionally the new summer brochures hit the high streets in Germany in November, while in the UK the brochures accompanied by highly attractive offers to book early, are already on the shelves in the travel agents. This year in the Balearics, in the wake of September 11, tour operators reduced their quotas by around 17 per cent, all have made it clear that until 2005, their contracts will remain the same. However, in view of the huge scale of the disaster which has hit Germany and Austria, some tour operators may decide to consolidate again and reduce their bed spaces for next summer further, bracing themselves for another drop in holiday bookings in Germany as the country and the victims pay the costs of the floods.