By Humphrey Carter
THE next ten days could prove crucial for the Balearics summer season this year.
With the German holiday market fairing poorly again this year and the once German-dominated resorts, such as Arenal and Can Pastilla complaining of very low hotel bookings, all eyes are on the great British getaway which started this weekend now that the school holidays have started.

At the end of last month, summer holiday bookings were slightly down on June last year, however, but the Association of British Travel Agents is confident that, come the end of October, summer holiday sales will be on par with last year.

But that refers to the global market, how the Balearics will fair remains to be seen.
ABTA's Sean Tipton admitted that Spain is not selling as well as expected. “It's going to be a late booking market again. Eastern Europe is becoming extremely popular for family holidays which has traditionally been the Balearics' and Spain's main market,” he said.

He also claimed that, especially in the case of the Balearics, the combination of the Euro being slightly stronger against the Pound than this time last year and the high rate of regional inflation, is transforming the Balearics into an increasingly expensive destination. “Families have to not only consider the price of the holiday, but also the costs in resort,” Tipton added.
But, on top of all this, Tipton said that Spain has been receiving some negative press in the UK. “All the doom and gloom stories about the death of the package holiday and reports of tour firms pulling out of key areas has not helped. To a certain extent, Spain is suffering from negative press,” he added.

Market research carried out by Mintel this week has also revealed two new swings in UK holiday habits.
This year, more Britons than ever will be holidaying in the UK. It appears that an increasing number of Britons no longer want to go on holiday to a destination where they are going to find themselves surrounded by fellow countrymen.

The fact that certain resorts are extremely popular with the British is becoming a turn-off in the UK - another reason for rapid success of the re-emerging Eastern European destinations, such as Croatia and Bulgaria.

Nevertheless, the British do not appear to have any objections to living together overseas.
However, Tipton said that there are still some good bargains to be had for this summer.
But, the late bookers will not be able to enjoy the great bargains they found last year.
This year's peak season price war has been avoided.
Despite Thomas Cook, for example, offering a select number of holidays at prices lower than thirty years ago, tour operators claim that, thanks to the awful weather in the UK and the start of the school holidays, the price war has been averted.

There are still one-week self catering holidays available to Spain and £99 to the Balearics, but across the board, tour firms have said that prices are “hardening” because of the sudden pick up in demand.

This week, package holiday sales were up two per cent on the same period last year, despite being down overall. If the British market in the Balearics repeats last summer's performance, this season will not turn out to be too bad after all.

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