By Humphrey Carter
THE British travel industry does not foresee yesterday's blasts sparking British tourists to turn their backs on Spain this year, although the short-break market in Madrid may well suffer in the short term. Corporate Affairs director for the Association of British Travel Agents, Keith Betton, expressed his great sadness and sorrow to the Spanish people yesterday and issued an assurance that many of the millions of British tourists who come here every year, “for whom terrorism has been an everyday feature of their lives,” are used to living with the threat of terrorism. “I hope the Spanish people realise that many Britons have grown up with the threat of terrorism and have lived with the threat of being caught up in a terrorist attack, in particular in the 70*s and 80*s, so we are able to put the situation in perspective. “The chances of a foreigner, or for even that matter a Spaniard, being involved in a terrorist attack is very small,” he said. “I don't see this hitting British tourism, although it may hit the short break market to Madrid in the short term, but it will bounce back. “If you look at New York, we're three years on from 11-S and it is now one of the most popular holiday destination cities in the world,” he added. “A few people may cancel their flights or choose another destination, but the numbers will be insignificant,” Betton told the Bulletin yesterday. “But, while the blasts will have no impact on British tourism to Spain, I will imagine some of the tour operators will be looking to hoteliers for security assurances. “However, as far as I am concerned, I have been impressed by the level of hotel security in Spain with many of the hotels posting security guards on the doors just to keep an eye on people and their comings and goings. “Such a practice makes good sense in general and helps to make the guest feel for secure,” he said. “Security on the doors at the hotel where I stayed in Palma during last November's ABTA convention certainly made me feel safer,” he added.
Nevertheless, while the British public are used to terrorism, Betton said that the Balearic tourism authorities need to keep an eye on how the German and Scandinavian markets respond. “These two countries, and even the US, for example, are either not so used to or highly sensitive to terrorism and holidaymakers may reconsider going to Spain this year. “The tourism authorities should not make a big deal out of the situation, but address the issue in a pro-active way and reassure its main satellite markets that everything is being done to ensure the maximum safety and security of visitors to Spain.”


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