By Humphrey Carter
GERMANY'S leading tour operators yesterday gave the Balearic Minister for Tourism, Joan Flaquer, assurances that holiday sales for this summer are showing a marked improvement on last year.

Flaquer held talks with TUI, Rewe and Thomas Cook at the ITB trade fair yesterday and - in the case of TUI - the tour operator is talking of an estimated 20 percent growth in Balearic holiday sales with Thomas Cook also talking “two digits.” This year, 70 percent of Germans are planning on taking a holiday, the highest level since 2001 and it is Spain, the Balearics and, in particular, Majorca which are proving to be the leading destinations along with Turkey and Tunisia.

Despite high unemployment and a slow economy, three quarters of the German population took a holiday last year and tour industry chiefs told Flaquer yesterday that further growth will be seen this year.

JEALOUS CANARIES
The Canary Islands, however, are struggling in the German market this year and, along with Bulgaria and Italy, have reported a downturn in sales compared to 2004.

And in a bid to try and attract some of the Germans expected to book Balearic holidays this summer, hoteliers in the Canaries are poised to embark on a price war with the Balearics.

This year, hoteliers in the Balearics have frozen their rates in a bid to revive the German market and compete with other slightly cheaper Eastern Mediterranean competitors.

The strategy appears to have worked and now the Canaries plan to give the Balearics a taste of their own medicine.
For the Balearic and Canary Islands tourism chiefs, this was not quite the image they wanted to project yesterday when they met to discuss the two destinations co-operating in joint advertising campaigns in Germany.

Flaquer said yesterday he is sure that the Canaries will see German bookings pick up as the summer nears.

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