By Humphrey Carter

THE tourism council currently meeting in Palma to analyse the present condition of the Balearic travel industry, yesterday said that the general public has an important role to play and projecting a positive image of the region. Yesterday the committee of international experts met with local tourism specialists to discuss the situation and what is clear is that the Balearics has a serious image problem which has not been helped by a certain section of the community which has a poor impression of tourism, but European experts believe that residents need to support the domestic industry. The first step is to overcome the problems between the business sector and the government and re-establish dialogue between the two groups, in particular with the local hotel federations. Last year while tourism figures dropped by one million, unemployment rose and experts warned yesterday that if the government and private sector continue to clash, both figures will grow this year. But the general public's attitude to tourism needs to be improved, “they need to be reminded just how important tourism is” to their lives German professor Auliana Poon said, adding that the results will also be seen in a vast improvement in the standards and quality of service offered to visitors.

Record number of Britons came to Spain last year

Spain was the most popular destination for UK residents to visit in 2002, overtaking France for the first time in more than ten years, according to new statistics from the International Passenger Survey. In 2002, UK residents made 12.6 million visits to Spain, up 7 per cent on 2001.
In comparison, the number of visits to France fell 2 per cent from 12.0 million in 2001 to 11.7 million in 2002.
The Republic of Ireland moved up one place to third with 4.0 million visits from UK residents in 2002.
The USA slipped to fourth place with 3.7 million visits from UK residents, an 8 per cent fall compared with 2001.
Of the Spanish destinations, the Balearics is still Britain's most popular holiday hot-spot accounting for 20 per cent of the overall market. By the end of February 971.832 Balearic package holidays had already been sold in the UK. The five countries whose residents made the greatest number of visits to the UK in 2002 remained unchanged: the USA remained top with 3.7 million visits, followed by France (3.0 million visits), Germany (2.5 million visits), the Republic of Ireland (2.3 million), and the Netherlands (1.4 million). The statistics also show that in the fourth quarter of 2002 the number of visits to the UK by overseas residents and the number of visits abroad made by UK residents both returned to levels similar to those in the fourth quarter of 2000. This follows the large falls seen in the fourth quarter of 2001 following the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The number of visits to the UK by overseas residents during December 2002 to February 2003, seasonally adjusted, increased by seven per cent when compared with the previous three months - from 6.1 million to 6.5 million. Over the same period, the number of visits abroad by UK residents increased by 3 per cent to 15.3 million.


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