By Lois Jones

THE German tour operator, Thomas Cook, will increase the number of flights from Germany to the Balearics by 12 percent during the winter season.
It will also work with the local government on a promotional campaign, with the intention of recapturing the prestige that the Balearics once enjoyed in the German market. A joint announcement was made yesterday by Balearic president Jaume Matas, and the Chief Executive of Thomas Cook, Stefan Pilcher.
It followed a meeting between the two men which was also attended by the Balearic Minister for Tourism, Joan Flaquer; the director general of Promotion in Tourism, Eduardo Gamero; and the president of the Iberostar group, Miquel Fluxá. Pilcher declared that his company will increase numbers of flights coming from Germany to the Islands up to a figure of 72 a week, which is equivalent to a 12 percent increase. Out of high season, Thomas Cook will also lay on 10 percent more flights from other European points of origin with destination the Balearic Islands. In particular, the United Kingdom will be able to benefit from 60 flights a week, and Belgium, 22. With this increase, the Islands' government and the German tour operator will aim to make available twice the amount of accommodation that is normally on the market out of high season. For years, the tourist sector on the Islands has been attempting to “open up” the holiday season to other months of the year.
The Balearic government expects a resounding success from the fact that Thomas Cook has committed to the production of a brochure in November this year covering the winter season in Majorca. This marketing strategy is part of the overall campaign that the Islands' Executive will promote in Germany to recapture the image of the Balearics as “a number one holiday destination in Europe, not only in terms of quantity but also of quality”, emphasized Matas. The third issue addressed in the talks between Matas and Pilcher was that of the creation of an investment fund aimed at environmental improvement. This economic initiative will replace the Ecotax, commonly known as the “Tourist Tax”, due to be repealed by the Balearic Parliament this coming October. During the Press conference, Pilcher signalled that Thomas Cook has the “will to participate” in such a scheme and will do so when details have been firmed up. On this theme, Matas reiterated that the message from his new regional government was that German tourism is to be made a priority along with carefully planned environmental management.

Without being precise, he commented that a “strong financial initiative” would have to be put in place.
He also expressed his concern about rising prices in the so-called “complimentary offer”, tariffs in bars, cafés, restaurants and tourist-linked entertainment. He stated that his Cabinet, “mindful of the needs of the market” would work towards establishing a balance between quality and acceptable prices.
The Balearic President gratefully acknowledged the support offered by Stephen Pilcher in connection with the forthcoming Congress of the Association of British Travel Agents to be held in Palma in November.