Balearic President Francesc Antich visited the World Travel Market in London yesterday, leading the local delegation to the fair which this year has become a historic event for the Balearics and a personal victory for the local government. Spain's secretary general for Tourism and Commerce, Juan José Güemes, also attended the fair to announce that the total number of visitors to Spain this year will be slightly up on last year. Juan José Güemes said that so far this year, 49 million tourists have come to Spain, last year the total was 49.5 million, but the secretary general added that the tourist industry is confident that by the end of the year, a new record will have been set. Juan José Güemes admitted that this year has been a difficult one for tourism in general because of September 11, But Spain has faired better than most other destinations, he said, adding 2003 will be an even better year. He explained that, during the second half of the year, a marked improvement in the tourist industry was noted in Spain and that the recovery has continued at a steady rate. He also said that economic recovery in Germany next year will obviously boost Spanish tourism - the recession in Germany this year is what has led to the drop in German holidaymakers across Spain, especially the Balearics. On the whole, summer tourism figures were up by three per cent this year better that the government's expectations, but there are areas of concern, the Balearics for example, which saw a summer drop in tourism. Juan José Güemes said that these issues need to be addressed and resolved. On the mainland, winter bookings are 69 per cent up on last year, while by contrast, in the Balearics, winter bookings are currently down one per cent. However, José Güemes announced that the Balearics can look ahead to an eight per cent increase in summer tourism next year, primarily based on the British market. Summer tourism to the mainland is forecast to increase by 29 per cent and the Canaries nine per cent. Echoing the comments made by the Balearic Minister for Tourism, Celesti Alomar, the British market is Spain's number one market accounting for 40 per cent of all tourists who come to Spain.
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