SWIFT END TO THE WAR LIFTS THE SPIRITS OF TOURISM INDUSTRY

By Humphrey Carter

NOW that the Gulf War II is all but over, Balearic hoteliers and the tourist industry are bracing themselves for a surge of summer holiday bookings.
Hotel federations hope that bookings will start to recover quickly and that tour operators and the industry as a whole will put into practice the lessons learnt from the first Gulf War. Travel companies were slow to react last time, adding to the industry's woes, however, many of the leading tour operators in the UK and Germany are already locked in a summer price war and the Balearic hotel sector hopes that the discounts and bargains will have an immediate affect on the holiday markets which have all but ground to a halt over the past month. President of the Ibiza Hotel Federation, Pedro Matutes, expressing the desire of hotel federations across the Balearics, says “once the war in over, we hope to see bookings recover rapidly.” Easter has been written off, bookings are well below normal and while only half of the hotels are opening in Majorca, just 15 per cent are going to bother opening in Ibiza; all sights are focused on the summer. But in order for the Balearics to benefit from the late surge in summer holiday bookings, the region also has to tackle its image crisis.
Pedro Matutes says that so far, the Canary Islands and the Costa del Sol has benefited much more from the closure of Eastern Mediterranean destinations and holiday cancellations, “the Balearics' bad image, created by certain unfortunate statements by the local government have not helped the islands.” Furthermore, the tourist industry wanted a short war and it got one, not only for the sake of the destinations like the Balearics, but also Eastern Mediterranean destinations like Turkey, Greece and Egypt which have suffered severely. But now, the Balearics' main destination rivals also have time to recover before the summer holidays start and are expected to launch some extremely competitive and tough publicity campaigns.

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