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By Humphrey Carter THE Balearics enjoyed a seven percent increase in British tourism this year and is next year looking forward to a recovery in the ailing German market. Tourism Minister Joan Flaquer said yesterday that the current forecast for next year points to a 6.2 percent increase in the number of tourists coming to the Balearics and an improvement in the German market. Flaquer said that 2002 was the worst year for tourism in the history of the Balearics and 2003 paid the price for such a poor year. “However, although the first few months of the year were poor, the market picked up significantly from October, mainly thanks to a boom in domestic tourism,” the Minister said. The Balearics experienced a 21 percent increase in domestic tourists this year and the seven percent rise in the number of visitors from Britain. The German market, which for the past three years has suffered a steady decline, will end this year with a four percent increase, suggesting that the rot in the German holiday market has finally stopped. But, while Flaquer is encouraged by the latest market report, he said that the Balearics will continue to push ahead and is aiming for tourism figures similar to those of the late 1990*s. “It's still going to be difficult, the tourism market is still economically volatile and constantly changing,” he admitted, adding that the the latest report can not be taken for granted. “Tourists are more intelligent than before and are waiting until the last minute to book their holidays in order to get the best deal,” Flaquer said. Nevertheless, the Minister said that the main tour operators have reported healthy bookings for next summer in the Balearics while the Canaries, Cataluña and Valencia are suffering. Looking further ahead, he said that the key to the long term future of tourism in the Balearics is diversification and providing maximum value for money while building on the close working relationships with the region's main feeder markets.