By Humphrey Carter
SUMMER package holidays to the Balearics have sold well this year with three percent more packages being sold than last summer, leaving the Balearics with a near 19 percent share of the UK package holiday market. This year only Greece has proved just slightly more popular, but taking the independent UK travel market into account, the Balearics, up until the end of July, has experienced a six percent rise in British tourism. Package holiday sales to Majorca have rocketed by six percent and Ibiza one per cent, Minorca however has suffered a four percent fall in package sales, although figures for August are expected to readdress the deficit. Both the Balearics and Canary Islands have seen package holiday sales rise by three percent, while the mainland has enjoyed a 16 percent boom, primarily because they faired better in the price war, able to offer cheaper packages. The Caribbean has also provided stiff competition. UK bookings rose by 21 percent during the first half of the year, nevertheless summer 2003 in the Balearics will end with a five or six percent increase in British tourism with holiday sales for August, September and October well up on last year. The Majorcan hotel sector is in fact reporting hotel occupancy for September and October of around 80 to 85 percent, with the bulk of clients being British.

Winter holiday sales in the UK are 12 percent up on last year, but with regards to the Balearics, eight percent down with the British opting for the Caribbean, 79 percent increase in holiday sales, or Florida, 32 percent increase in sales. Apart from the obvious winter attractions of both destinations, they have dropped their prices by around seven per cent while across the board, winter holiday prices have risen by nearly as much as six per cent. As usual, the Canaries are doing well, six percent up on last year and the mainland currently two percent down.

SUMMER 2004 People are already booking their holidays for next summer with Cuba, Florida and Bulgaria setting the market trends with increases in holiday sales of 39, 12 and 77 percent respectively.The more traditional destinations of Greece, Cyprus and Turkey are struggling along with the Balearics. 12 percent less holidays have been sold for next summer while for mainland Spain, holiday sales are on target.

The Balearics has enjoyed an 18.6 percent share of the package holiday market with 46.7 percent of all Britons holidaying in Spain, coming to the Balearics. Overall, the Balearics is still Britain's number one holiday destination with Alcudia and the Playa de Muro the number one resort. A quarter of a million Britons had summered in Alcudia by the end of July, 13 percent more than last year. Palma also enjoyed a sharp rise in the number of British visitors while resorts such as Cala Sant Vicente have seen the number of British tourists fall by 62 percent this summer along with Sant Agustin, Arenal, the Playa de Palma and Cala Viñas. At the end of July, 1.840.419 Britons had booked a Balearic package holiday this summer, although since the end of July, bookings for August, September and October have risen. Nevertheless, the end of July figures, supplied by ACNielsen TravelTrack, are the last available and at least 367.523 Britons came on a package holiday to the Balearics last month, a further 195.138 are coming this month, and over 88.205 people are booked to come here next month. But, with an average price of £422 for a seven night holiday in the Balearics, the British package holiday surge to the Balearics this summer (May, June, July) has also meant that the islands are a lucrative destination for the tour operators.


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