Staff Reporter
OF all reservations that have been made so far this year for tourist holidays in the Balearics, only 8 percent have been made on the Internet.
The results of a joint study by the Institute for Tourist Strategy (Inestur) and the Balearic Business Confederation (CAEB), show that 7 out of every 10 reservations made at hotels on the Islands have been made through tour operators. Nevertheless, the study predicts an “important” growth in the part that new technology will play in the commercialisation of the Islands as a holiday destination.

Inestur, which is a department of the regional ministry for Tourism, affirms that in spite of the fact that commercialisation through the Internet is a recent phenomenon, the majority of hotel establishments in the Balearics are listed on the network and many adapt to the demands of clients, since 70 percent of establishments offer Internet to their guests and 87.3 percent have their own web page. Even so, holiday bookings through the Internet are inferior in number to those made by telephone, fax or through tour operators.

The percentage of reservations currently made for hotels in the Balearics through tour operators stands at 70.1%; by telephone or fax, 13%; through travel agencies or other means, 8.8%; leaving reservations made on the Internet to stand at just 8 percent of the total.

Establishments receiving the majority of Internet reservations are those which fall under the category of rural tourism (26.7%), followed by apartments, which go to make up 12 percent of reservations, and hotels, which receive 5 percent of their bookings via the Internet.

According to this study, presented yesterday by the regional minister for Tourism, Joan Flaquer, the Balearics exceeds by 9 percent, the average number of hotels across Spain's regions which are connected to the Internet. Results show that 79 perecent of establishments in the Balearics are on the network whilst the Spanish average is only 70 percent.

In terms of the client markets that make most use of the Internet to secure tourist contracts, the United Kingdom heads the list with 38 percent of reservations made by this country carried out through the “net”. Second comes Germany where clients of the Balearics make 22 percent of their bookings electronically. Following on down the list come Scandinavia, Finland and Iceland which combine to effect 16 percent of their reservations “on line”.

France is next, making 10 percent of its bookings through the Internet: the Benelux countries, Austria, Ireland and the Czech Republic combine to secure 8 percent of their bookings on the “net”; and Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain where 6 percent of clients use electronic means to secure bookings.

The study also reveals that the star “on line” products which are sold on the Internet are aircraft tickets, where sales in Spain reached 78 percent of the total sold during 2003. In addition, 11 percent of tourist placings in hotels were sold electronically, 6 percent of package holidays and 5 percent of car hire bookings.

Inestur and CAEB signed a new agreement yesterday, allowing the latter to continue carrying out studies in the Balearic tourist sector, while “the regional government will do all in its power to ensure that the opportunity to make bookings on the Internet is made available to the maximum number of people”, declared Joan Flaquer, minister for Tourism. He went on to confirm that with a software programme entitled “Avanthotel”, all the establishments on the Islands will be able to advertise themselves directly to clients “and that is something which we must take advantage of” signalled the minister.

Finally, Flaquer reported that next Friday, a big welcome will be given to the world's largest cruise liner the Queen Mary II when she comes to Palma. The minister was keen for the presence of the ship in the Bay of Palma to be used to maximum advantage for advertising the Balearics.

He declared that at a time when millions of tourists are coming to the Balearics, now is the moment to maximise promotion of the Islands.

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