THE Balearic government may find itself better off using its efforts at the FITUR travel trade fair in Madrid to promote the Balearics, as opposed to making anti-war statements, claiming that an allied attack on Iraq will have a negative effect on the region's tourist industry. The threat of another Gulf War has dampened the spirits of the Balearic delegation to the fair and all yesterday's talk was of doom and gloom, with holiday sales coming to a halt amidst consumers fears of war. According to the Association of British Travel Agents, with regards to summer holiday sales in the United Kingdom, this is not the case. ABTA's Sean Tipton said that the recent sales figures released by ACNielsen show a 24 per cent increase in Balearics summer holiday sales in the UK, and that package holidays sales will be well up on last year. He admitted that some tour operators reported a sharp January down turn in sales of as much as 15 per cent, but we've been getting conflicting reports and on the whole, the market is up. The leading operators slashed their prices in January in order to stimulate the market and try to sell as many summer holidays as early as possible , the strategy worked and now holidays are returning to brochure prices, Sean Tipton said yesterday dispelling reports of the alleged freeze in UK summer holiday sales. On the eve of the Gulf War, and the holidays industry is pretty much resolved to an allied strike on Iraq taking place, holiday sales dropped by 60 per cent - we're what would appear to be on the eve of another Gulf War and holiday sales are up on last year by 20 per cent. Obviously some countries such as Egypt, Turkey and North Africa will suffer, but only because people are opting for other potentially safer destinations. People in the UK I guess are used to the threat of domestic terrorism and we've been through one Gulf War and by the looks of the holiday market, nobody is being put off travelling, they're just perhaps being more selective he added. Greece and Spain can expect to do well again this year, Sean Tipton said. How other European markets, in particular Germany and to a lesser extent France, respond to the build up to war in the Gulf remains to be seen but there are other important burdens to consider when booking holidays such as recession and rising unemployment.