By Humphrey Carter
THE Spanish tourist industry will be told at the annual FITUR travel fair in Madrid later this month that the British holiday market is already showing signs of performing better than last year. The secretary general for Tourism, German Porras, said yesterday that both the British, Spain's number one client, and German markets are showing encouraging signs. He said that Spanish holiday sales in the UK are on course with last year, if not slightly better, while the German market is starting to show signs of a definite recovery after two very poor years, although it will still take time for the German market to recover fully, if it ever does, on the back of the strong euro and fierce competition. However, Porras said that the tourist industry can look forward to a 2004 with a “certain amount of calm.” He added that, not only is the British market doing well, but the US market has started to recover.
Porras said that over the past five months, US holiday sales have risen by 44 percent.
One of the other markets fuelling the increase in sales in the UK is the cruise sector.
Spain, in particular Palma, has become a popular “start” destination for summer cruises and the UK cruise industry is looking forward to a ten percent increase in business this year, on top of the 12 percent increase last year with, just over one million people in the UK going on a cruise. However, both the cruise firms and the tour operators are locked in a bitter January price war. This week is crucial for sales after an unsettled start to the year, with holidays sales slowing down in the second week of the month after a good start. “You have to remember that last year, the tourist industry had to cope with terrorism, a war, outbreaks of the SARS disease and economic uncertainty around the world,” Porras said yesterday. “But despite that, tourism turned over 4.2 per cent more money than in 2002 and for this year, the outlook is much more positive,” he added.


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