By Humphrey Carter

AS soon as the Gulf War II is over, the Balearic government is to launch a massive promotional tourism offensive in the United Kingdom and Germany.
In the meantime, the Ministry for Tourism is to target the mainland and the domestic market with the launch of an “immediate” television advertising blitz to attract more Spanish tourists this summer. Balearic Minister for Tourism, Celesti Alomar, hosting the second two-day meeting of the Tourism Commission of Experts in Palma yesterday, said that the government “is prepared to do whatever it takes” to cushion the effects of the war which at the moment are unclear and revive holiday bookings over the next few months, in particular for September and October. The government wants to significantly boost the Balearics' image in the UK and Germany with the tourist offices and travel agents leading the assault on the market. The domestic campaign will be launched in two phases, but both pushing the message that the islands “are much more than sun and sand, but a destination to enjoy all year round.” Balearic president Francesc Antich also attended the first session of yesterday's meeting, called to analyse the current situation of the Balearic tourist industry and the affect the war is having on the region's key feeder markets. Antich said that in view of the war and the possible negative impact it may have on the economies, apart from tourism, immediate steps need to be taken to promote the Balearics as a “calm and peaceful” place while reminding people that the tourist sector “is an industry of peace.” Alomar, impressed by the performance of the British market last year which remained strong while German bookings fell sharply, is confident that while the UK market will remaiin strong, the German market will also pick up “quickly” once the war is over. However, bickering within the Balearic tourist sector will not help and Alomar urged the industry to work together in projecting a positive image of the region, especially with regards to the tourist tax which is nearing its first anniversary and is here to stay he added. In the short term, the Minister said yesterday that the bookings forecast for Easter is down four per cent on last year, although this week, an upbeat Alomar claimed that he has received reports that bookings have picked up by five per cent.

Holiday bargains boost bookings

Cut-price holiday offers across Europe are boosting Easter bookings along the Playa de Palma, according to the hotel association.
Jordi Cabrer said yesterday that hoteliers have recently noticed a slight recovery in the market.
At the moment, hotel occupancy for Easter in the Playa de Palma should be around 70 per cent, although less hotels will be open than during the holiday period last year, but will fall by around 10 per cent in May. Cabrer said that in some cases, hoteliers have slashed their prices by between 10 and 15 per cent, but the offers are proving attractive, hence the recent rise in bookings for May. Cabrer said that 104 hotels will be open for Easter, “slightly less than last year,” he said, adding that some hotels are not even going to open in May because of the recession. But, the association president is confident that, with time, the situation of European uncertainty will return to normal, although for the time being, recession in Germany and the Gulf War are obviously hitting holiday bookings.

German prices slashed

The world's largest tour operator, TUI, has slashed the prices of summer package holidays to Spain, including Majorca, in order to try and revive flagging bookings in its northern European markets. Over 300 hotels in various Mediterranean resorts are included in the summer holiday give away in Germany, Holland and Austria.
TUI sources said yesterday that clients can save as little as 30 euros or as much as 120 euros per person, per week on summer package holidays, depending on the hotel and destination. The main foreign destinations are Majorca and Corfu, as well as one resort in Austria and another in Germany for those clients either not wishing to fly or travel too far from home in view of the current international climate and uncertainty which all tour operators are having to account for this year.


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