By Humphrey Carter

LEADING Balearic hoteliers and German tour operators were forced to admit yesterday that holidays are being practically given away at major discount prices and that clients are not even looking at the brochures. Tour firm bosses, attending a conference at the Chamber of Commerce in Palma, spoke about their concerns over low bookings with TUI, the market leader, announcing that its hotels are operating with 70 per cent occupancy. “We're not selling from the brochure, we're selling by offers, although it appears that demand has risen slightly over the past few days,” Sigfrid Feith, TUI's director of operations in Germany, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland and Austria, said. Lorenzo Mulet, member of the Chamber of Commerce's tourism council, confirmed that the industry is, at present, performing slightly worse than this time last year. “There's no way this is going to be a brilliant year because sales are down and all that is being sold are special offers.” Along the Playa de Palma, hoteliers have dropped their prices by as much as 25 per cent.
President of the the local hotel association, Jordi Cabrer, said that over the past ten days, hotels have only managed to fill their rooms for the peak season by slashing their prices “but bookings are slow for September, I fear many hotels will close at the end of August.” But despite the doom and gloom, German tour operators praised the Chamber of Commerce for Majorca, Ibiza and Formentera for its new tourism promotion campaign aimed at the German market. The promotional drive was actually launched on June 5 and yesterday representatives from tour firms TUI, Thomas Cook, Grupo Rewe, Altours, Schavinsland Reisen and Greiner attended the presentation to hear how the campaign is working. The main aim is the family market and the Chamber of Commerce has launched the campaign in four major cities, Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne and Dusseldorf, where information is being pumped out about the three islands' main tourist attractions. Apart from media spots, the islands are also plastered all over the metros and buses.
The main reason for gathering the tour operators together yesterday was to show that Majorca values the German market extremely highly. The local tourist industry is genuinely keen to repair the damage done to relations in the holiday industry, by bad publicity and negative comments, and restore the German public's faith and confidence in the islands as a holiday destination. The Chamber of Commerce hopes that the campaign will revive the German family holiday market. Latest market reports show that there is still a sizeable part of the market which has yet to book its summer holidays this year, while also boosting the local economy, which is presently looking at a rather dull year with the latest economic forecasts pointing at zero economic growth. The Chamber of Commerce has wasted no time in taking the initiative in a bid to try its best to boost bookings for this summer, knowing that once the new conservative Balearic government has been sworn in, it too will be launching a number of last minute bids to “save the summer.”

Busy with British
HOTEL occupation in Majorca was just under one per cent down on May last year, although there were five per cent less hotels open and compared to May, 2001, the number of hotel guests was 13 per cent less. The busiest resorts were Palmanova and Magalluf, where hotels were 80 per cent full, with mainly British guests, further proof that the UK market in Majorca is as buoyant as ever. In fact, hotel occupancy in the two resorts was ten per cent higher than May last year, confirming reports that the British market will save the season again. Hotels in Pollensa, another area extremely popular with British holidaymakers, were nearly three-quarters full. But, at the other end of the island, one in four rooms were empty in Porto Colom, while Portocristo and Capdepera fared slightly better with hotel occupancy 40 and 45 per cent respectively. What is proving a deception is the airport figures. Despite Palma airport being busier than last year so far, as the hotel figures show, occupancy is down. The increase in passengers is because of a rise in the number of visits being made by holiday home owners, the “family and friends” market.

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