By Humphrey Carter
THE Balearics and Malta have both been quick to cash in on their celebrity visitors to try and promote tourism, however, it is Brad Pitt's connection with Malta and Gozo which is proving the big attraction in Britain.

Last year, the Balearics signed up Michael Douglas as the region's new international tourism ambassador; he has since appeared at the London and Berlin trade fairs, but Malta and Gozo have dumped Majorca down the popularity list in the UK thanks to Brad Pitt and his wife Jennifer Aniston.

Pitt filmed his new blockbuster movie Troy, which also stars Orlando Bloom, on the island of Malta and during filming, he and his wife visited the neighbouring island of Gozo on a number of occasions.

According to the top ten villa destination report complied recently by the leading British holiday company Meon Villa, the number of British visitors over the past six months has risen by 30 percent and Malta/Gozo is now fifth in the UK popular villa holiday destinations table.

Despite all the hype, Majorca has been bumped down into sixth place.
Minorca, however, is the Balearics' top villa destination and the fourth most popular in the UK.
Corfu is the number one spot, followed by the Algarve and France.
Malta was expected to make a much bigger play on its blockbuster celebrity connections at the World Travel market in London last November in competition with the Balearics and Michael Douglas. However, Douglas stole the show on the day of his appearance, but since then, has sparked little reaction from British holidaymakers, while Malta, with its booming film industry, took a back seat. But the political debate in the Balearics rages over whether or not the local government's decision to buy the actor out of his Costa Nord cultural centre venture in Valldemossa and hire his promotional services at four trade fairs over a period of four years at a cost of 4.2 million euros, was really worth it. Some tourism industry people claim it is a shame his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones was not included in the promotion deal.

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