By Humphrey Carter
THE Balearic Minister for Tourism Joan Flaquer arrived in Germany yesterday to attend the ITB Berlin travel fair riding on a wave of optimism for the coming summer season.

The fair, the world's largest, was officially opened on Friday night by the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and yesterday the global travel industry got down to business having been told that the crisis which has gripped global tourism since 2000, is now over.

Today, Flaquer will hold the first of a series of meetings with German and Europe's leading tour operators, as will Spain's Secretary of State for Tourism Pedro Mejía.

After four years of poor performance in Spain, the German holiday market is enjoying a revival. The Secretary of State will be looking to boost momentum in the Spanish market, as will Flaquer with regards to the Balearics.

Last year, over 10 million Germans visited Spain, 2-7 percent more than in 2003, with the Balearics the top destination followed by the Canaries.
In fact, the two regions account for two-thirds of all the Germans who holiday in Spain.
To consolidate and increase its share of the German holiday sector, Spain, in co-operation with the Balearics and other key destinations, is launching a five million euro publicity campaign in Germany this year.

A similar promotional drive is being mounted in the United Kingdom as well.
Three main areas are being pushed this year, the emphasis is back on traditional sun, sea and beach holidays while the authorities are also keen to promote culture and nature tourism.

Spain is still trying to open up the city break market and attract “weekenders” away from Barcelona and Madrid to other cities. Of particular importance and interest to the Balearics, is a major effort is being made to promote the nautical and golf markets.

Prior to Flaquer's arrival in Berlin yesterday, he, Ibatur, the Balearic Institute for Tourism Promotion and 30 local tourism-related companies, stopped in Nice and Marseille for talks with French tour operators and travel agents. France is another key market the Balearics would like to re-develop.

Once a bog feeder market, over recent years it has dropped off and Ibatur wants to revive its relations with France, “a market with huge potential,” said Flaquer. As a result of the meetings, French travel agents are poised to start operating direct flights between Nice and Palma and Ibiza this summer.

Once the French and German holiday markets have been dealt with, then the focus will be on the United Kingdom where the Balearics remains the top summer holiday destination. Sales are reported to be up on last year.

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