By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
STERLING hit a near record high against the euro yesterday and it could not have happened at a better time as far as euro-zone holiday destinations, in particular the Balearics, are concerned.

The value of the euro fell a quarter of a percent yesterday to 66.05 pence as Sterling hit its highest level against the euro since August 2004 and the Pound could strengthen further during this first quarter.

This is good news for the Balearic holiday industry which has been finding it increasingly difficult, along with fellow euro-zone destinations, to compete against cheaper non-euro zone resorts since the single currency was introduced.

With a holiday price war currently raging in the UK, local tourism chiefs hope that the strong Pound will convince more Britons to summer in the Balearics this year and book their holiday early.

But, not only does the holiday industry stand to gain from a strong Pound, so too does the Balearic real estate market and the nautical sector.
With an increasing number of Britons wishing to move abroad and UK house prices continuing to rise, offering home owners deciding to sell a greater return on their investment, a weak euro is going to make popular destinations like the Balearics even more attractive.

A strong Pound will also provide some financial relief to pensioners who have been hit hard by the sharp annual escalation in the cost of living here in the Balearics since the euro was introduced.

The longer the Pound remains strong, the better, and some economists were yesterday forecasting that the Pound's current reign will last well into the year.

However, others said that the Pound's surge in strength will be short lived. See business

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