By H. Carter
THE British, and Balearic, travel industries are looking forward to a happy New Year.
2004 has been a very dramatic year for the travel and tourism industry both here in the Balearics and in the UK, with increasing changes in the way Britons are booking and taking their holidays. There is no sign that growth in foreign holidays is slowing in the UK and already, major industry players are reporting strong bookings for next summer. However, while Majorca remains Britain's number one summer holiday location, package holiday destinations are becoming more far-flung, more varied and more flexible in terms of how long holidaymakers go for. Nevertheless, according to the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) satisfaction rates for package holidays are still very high, although it is true that since 1999, the package holidays have gradually fallen in popularity. For example, in 1991, package holidays accounted for 55% of the holiday market, in 2003 their market share had fallen to 47%. The growth areas are proving to be tailor-made trips, long-haul and the cruise market.

Nevertheless, Spain and France are still the top destinations for summer 2005 while the terrific increase in British holidaymakers going to non-Eurozone countries like Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia is expected to continue growing next year. A number of other new and emerging destinations are also tipped for success. The cruise industry is also braced for another bumper year with more ships at sea which has led to a slight fall in average prices.

Short breaks are becoming increasingly popular - Paris, Amsterdam, Bruges and Rome have been the top destinations this year. The Slovak capital Bratislava and Prague are expected to enjoy a British influx next year along with Barcelona, Madrid and Bilbao thanks to more competitive low-cost air connections from a host of UK airports.

The designer and luxury holiday market is also enjoying healthy business. “Designer” and “eco-friendly” boutique hotels are proving very popular with the top end of the British market with the luxury range considered to be a booking worth £2'500 or more for two people. With more and more cashrich, but time-poor people in the UK, the demand for both value for money and excellent service breaks and holidays is on the rise. Closer to the UK, the two most popular designer hotel destinations are Majorca and the Canary Islands. Top luxury holiday destination are in the Indian Ocean, although some islands have been seriously damaged by the Boxing Day earthquake. “Experiential” holidays, such as round the world travel, going to Antarctica or finding gorillas in Uganda are also selling well. They appeal to a minority market. A large part of the majority are quite happy to summer in Majorca.

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