By Humphrey Carter LEADING European tour operators, the Balearic government and the tourist industry are discussing whether to launch a free-holiday draw, similar to the one about to be unveiled in Germany, in the UK. The free holiday draw is being launched to try and encourage people against booking their holidays at the last minute. Thousands of Germans could find themselves coming to the Balearics for free as part of the competition and all they have to do is complete a simple questionnaire when they book their holiday. A prize draw will take place over Easter and thousands of people could have the cost of their holiday refunded. The draw only applies to summer holidays booked before Easter. The competition is on the eve of being launched; it was only finalised at the FITUR trade fair in Madrid last week after having been initially suggested by leading tour operators during the ABTA convention in Palma last November. A decision however, has yet to be made on whether to launch the prize draw in the UK where the holiday market, especially with regards to the Balearics, is much more bouyant than in Germany. ABTA said yesterday that Spain is selling well in the UK and that, as yet, only one tour operator has been offering “free” incentives to early bookers to all destinations. The Spanish tourist board Turespaña has agreed to cover the publicity costs of the German give away, while it wants the tour operators to cover transport costs and at the destination, the costs of accommodation. The Spanish tourist board, concerned about the Balearics' relatively poor performance last year, wants to avoid last minute, discount campaigns in the middle of the summer season while reviving the flagging German holiday market as early as possible.

All the latest market indicators forecast a recovery in the German market and further growth in the British holiday market.
The number of domestic Spanish visitors and Italian tourists to the region is expected to rise by 15 per cent this year.