By Humphrey Carter BRITISH package holiday sales to Spain for next summer have taken a dip, but this does not mean that the British have turned their back on their favourite holiday destination.

In fact, contrary to reports in Britain since last week's controversial football match between England and Spain and gloomy forecasts in Spain about British tourism figures for next year, the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) told the Bulletin yesterday that there has been a resurgence in the sale of Spanish “separate component” holidays to Spain next summer. “Separate component” is the new terminology for the independent traveller. The boom market in the UK to tried and tested destinations like Spain where all the services which come included in a package holiday is becoming increasingly surplus. “The fall out from the Spain v England clash is only short term,” a spokesperson for Abta said yesterday. “While yes, we're seeing a decline in demand for package holidays, an increasing number of Britons are making their own way to Spain on touring holidays, twin destination breaks, city breaks, staying with friends, renting villas and making their own hotel arrangements,” the spokesperson said.

The Balearics in particular are continuing to prove popular. “The islands have traditionally been so popular with the British that, despite destinations like Turkey and Bulgaria chipping away at your tourism numbers, at the end of the day, it will make little difference,” he said. “There is so much to recommend in the Balearics, so much diversity from the food to water sports and culture.” Passenger figures for next summer are already up in the UK by one percent and, with regards to the Balearics, it is Ibiza which is enjoying a boom in early holiday sales.

It was Ibiza's stand which attracted the most international media attention at the World Travel market in London earlier this month when Arsenal's Spanish football stars visited the stand to help promote the island.

What is more, Ibiza is not only winning the youth market, but also families.
One of the reasons for the resurrection of Ibiza, which has suffered over the past few years, is that it has become one of the new destinations for the growing number of UK low cost airlines, in particular easyJet.

The island is also back on the international “A-list” celebrity circuit which is international promotion money can not buy.