By Humphrey Carter BALEARIC Minister for Tourism, Joan Flaquer, heads off to the UK next week to meet and greet the British tourist industry, show the face of the new Balearic government and improve relations with the holiday industry. Flaquer has wasted no time since the election, and is heading to London on Wednesday, after a lightning visit to Germany. While the Balearic government is still deeply concerned about holiday sales in Germany, Flaquer will be meeting the directors of tour operators, the German association of travel agents and tour firms as well as appearing live on breakfast television on Tuesday, Flaquer said yesterday that he does not want the British market to slip up in any way. It is the British market which has saved the summer season for the past two years and is on course to perform equally well, if not better, this year. Flaquer said that it is vital that the Balearics gets across its new tourism policies and attitude towards tourists in Germany as quickly as posible. His visit will also mark the launch of a huge publicity campaign. He will also be championing the government's decision to scrap the tourist tax on both visits, although yesterday he admitted that because of the parliamentary calendar, the unpopular tax cannot be done away with before October. Yesterday the “working party” was officially set up to organise the ABTA convention in Palma in October. Flaquer said that between 1'800 and 2'000 delegates will be coming from the British travel industry and that the Balearics wants to use the event as a showcase for the local tourism industry. Flaquer said that the convention is extremely important and that his organising committee, which will now meet every Thursday and will also be attended by ABTA directors next week, will be doing all it can to make the convention an enormous success. “It is also being held just weeks before the World Travel Market in London and we would like to maintain the momentum from Palma to London, with everyone talking about Palma and Majorca” Flaquer said. The working group, which includes the Spanish tourist board Turespaña, the Council of Majorca, the Balearics Port Authority and council officials from Palma, Calviá and Llucmajor, intends to offer King Juan Carlos of Spain the role as honorary president of the ABTA committee. Keith Betton, head of corporate affairs, will be attending next week's meeting in Palma and has said that tickets for the event are already selling very well. Flaquer sees the convention as the perfect opportunity to right all the wrongs the previous government committed in the tourist industry and put the Balearics back as Spain's number one holiday destination.

Signs of a surge in last minute holiday sales

IN spite of the economic crisis in Germany, the signals coming from tour operators are that a rapid recovery is underway.
Last minute holiday sales have pushed up the figures which now show a rise of between 10 and 20 percent over the previous summer. The commentary was made yesterday in Palma by José Manuel de Juan González, who is director of the Institue of Tourism in Spain, part of the Ministry of Economy. This summer, De Juan had confidence that German tourists will start using the Islands as a holiday destination in the same numbers as before, and that the season would close with very little difference recorded between this year and last. The director, who is also involved in the marketing of Spain's tourism outside the country, made reference to British visitors. “We're hoping for a very good result” in terms of numbers of tourists visiting this summer from the United Kingdom, confirmed De Juan. These expectations were also seen in the context of last minute sales, although it was acknowledged that numbers would not climb back to the level enjoyed prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York in 2001. De Juan was attending yesterday a meeting of the organizing committee of the British Association of Travel Agents that will be holding a congress in Majorca between 30 October and 2 November this year.