THOMAS COOK RETURN TO MINORCA ON EVE OF SUMMER SEASON

THIS week on May 1, the summer season officially gets underway for British tour firms operating in the Balearics and, despite uncertainty on the international scale, on the whole, UK tour operators are optimistic about this summer in the islands. Sources for some of the leading tour operators said last week that flight capacity, reduced for fears of a slight drop in demand, is being restored and more flights are being programmed. All of the tour operators breathed a sigh of relief when the Iraq War came to a swift end. In the UK summer holiday bookings have started to pick up, although many of the operators are expecting a late surge in demand for summer holidays with many of the country's top destinations, such as the Balearics, launching new waves of promotional campaigns to cash in on the delayed booking market. This weekend is also expected to be the busiest weekend at Palma airport this year. Not only will it mark the start of the summer season and the launch of many of the UK tour operators' charter flight programmes, the Balearics and Spain will also be enjoying a May Day bank holiday weekend with May 1 being a holiday hence Iberia announced yesterday that it will be operating 26 extra flights between April 30 and May 4. It also emerged yesterday that Portugal has risen to be one of the Balearics' main competitors.

While on the domestic market, the main competitors are the Balearics, Canaries, Costa Blanca and the Costa del Sol, Portugal is now considered the main European “sunshine destination” competitor, followed by Greece, France a former number one, and Italy. The findings are the results of a recent survey carried out among domestic and foreign visitors to the Costa del Sol by the regional tourist board.

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