Staff Reporter
ALTHOUGH the British and Germans are continuing to use Spain as a holiday destination in increasing numbers, the country has lost some 4.3 million French tourists over the last 25 years.

Details were revealed yesterday of a study on the tourist sector carried out by the Association of Spanish tourist agencies (AEDAVE) on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.

During the course of their research, the Association, which incorporates 360 companies, revealed that the French client market has dropped by 36 percent in Spain over the last 25 years, falling from 12 million in 1978 to 7.7 million in 2003.

On the other hand, other European markets are showing an upward growth trend, as is the case with the British, a market which has grown from 3.5 million tourists in 1978 to 16.1 million in 2003. Similarly, the German market, the second of Spain's two most important client markets, registered 9.9 million visitors last year in comparison to 5 million in 1978.

In terms of client markets who visit Spain in lesser numbers, AEDAVE points to the Italians whose patronage has risen from half a million in 1978 to 2.4 million last year.

The Association will analyse the results of the study this coming 15 June at a conference which will have as its theme “The keys of success in Spanish tourism over the last 25 years”. Leading figures attending the event will include senior representatives from private Spanish companies operating in the sector, such as Barceló, Iberia and Sol Meliá.

Meanwhile, the head of the Tourist Board in Majorca, Miquel Vicens, admitted yesterday that April has been “disappointing” in terms of expectations for the tourist market.

The economic crisis, caused by geopolitical events on a world scale, has had repercussions in the sector and there are still gaps to be filled. Vicens, however, was certain that the high tourist season this year will be better than that of 2003.

The Tourist Board chief was one of a number of directors meeting with Balearic leader, Jaume Matas, yesterday. He vouchsafed that in spite of April's disappointing figures, the first quarter of the year was “positive” in respect of the same period in 2003 and the trend for the high summer months “looks good” from the standpoint of numbers of holidays in the Balearics which have been planned by visitors from other European member states.

Vincens, supported by data from the Spanish Airports Authority and the Association of Spanish Airlines, went on encouragingly: “It would seem that there have been more reservations made for the coming high season than there were last year, especially in the German market”. He confirmed there were also “promising perspectives” from Spanish clients and that it was only the British who were currently presenting a rather “half-hearted” outlook due to the strength of the Pound Sterling being weak against the Euro.

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