THE ITB travel trade fair opens in Berlin today with the Balearics poised to capture all the attention with super model, actress and long-time Majorca home owner Claudia Schiffer the star of the show promoting the Balearics.
Over the past few years, German holiday bookings to the Balearics have suffered, primarily because of the damage the controversial and unpopular tourist tax inflicted on the region's image in environmental-conscious Germany.
However, the latest market indications point to a revival in German bookings and, according to Balearic Tourism Minister Joan Flaquer, the improvement in sales is because of the hard work he and his team are carrying out to improve the region's reputation in Germany.
Flaquer arrives in Berlin tomorrow for a round of talks with tour operators encouraged by the signs of a good summer for German tourism.
The Minister will be discussing the market outlook with Germany's leading tour firms while examining the latest changes in the holiday market and searching for ways in which the Balearics can boost holiday sales during low season.
Keen to make the most of the situation the Balearic exhibition area will also feature an area for private enterprise with 26 local companies and associations exhibiting.
On Sunday, Flaquer will be presenting the second TUI-Palma de Mallorca marathon and the government's new green card to the German travel industry and media.
He will also be presenting new tourism initiatives from Minorca and Ibiza while the north of Majorca will be launching its new adventure holiday campaign.
The big day for the Balearics is on Tuesday - Balearic Day.
Flaquer will be joined by a large Balearic delegation of politicians and captains of industry led by Balearic president Jaume Matas for the celebrations which will be headlined by Claudia Schiffer.
Last year in Berlin it was the Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas. Now the Balearics have turned to Schiffer who, not only owns a large luxury property in Camp de Mar near Andratx, but has been holidaying on the island with her family every summer since she was 12, to promote the Balearics.
Schiffer, who has learnt to play golf over the past few summers in Majorca, will also be promoting the Turespaña Open de Golf Mallorca Classic tournament.
Tilo Braune, president of the German Tourism Federation, said yesterday that Spain leads the short-haul German market by a milestone this year, in particular the Balearics and the Canary Islsands. Majorca is going to experience a major revival, he said.
Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia are also proving popular in Germany with Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Kenya dominating the long haul market.
However, the emphasis of this year's fair is going to be very much on helping rebuild tourism in the countries hit by the Tsunami. A natural and humanitarian disaster of this kind can not be followed by an economic one, Braune said. The countries of south east Asia deserve all the attention and help the tourist industry can provide, he added.
South east Asia was one of the most popular long haul destinations with German travellers - over 100 Germans were killed by the tsunami and 1'000 are still missing - and the main theme for the ITB is let's not send donations, let's send tourists. He also claimed that the crisis which has gripped the travel industry since 2000, is over and that global tourism will start to enjoy considerable growth again.
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