By Humphrey Carter

THIS year, the Balearics has been the second most sought after holiday destination in the world.
Europe's leading on-line holiday rental company, Homelidays, reported yesterday that over the course of this year, interest in the Balearics rose by 40 percent on last year while there has also been a near 30 percent jump in the number of property owners putting their properties up for holiday rentals in the Balearics.

According to the report, it has been Majorcan home owners which have been trying to cash in on the holiday let market and, according to Homelidays, the Balearic trend matches that noticed in other regions of Spain where there has been a significant increase in properties coming on to the holiday rental market and a rise in demand for rental properties.

The encouraging report is further evidence that the Balearic tourist industry is going to experience a significant improvement next year after a tough 12 months during which the region's market has struggled for a number of reasons, many beyond the islands' control.

2010 was predicted to be a difficult year for the travel industry, and it was.
The impact of the global economic crisis was compounded by volcanic ash – which shut down UK airspace for 6 days. Industrial action in the UK and France and Spain, particularly the cabin crew strikes and bad weather also took their toll, while failed travel companies included Goldtrail, Sun4U and Kiss Flights.

Indications at this stage also suggest that the number of holidays taken in 2010 have dropped from the previous year for both domestic and overseas holidays.

However, the UK travel industry looks remarkably resilient going into 2011, as from July, drops in passenger numbers slowed, and business travel has seen positive growth.

Between July and October 2010, business visits both to the UK and abroad by UK residents were 6 per cent higher than a year earlier).
Many travel companies – airlines, hotel groups and tour operators – are also reporting profits at the end of the year, while the predicted continued consolidation within the leisure industry will help to ensure companies remain successful.

Doug McWilliams from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, predicted that while public spending and job cuts will undoubtedly land a blow to consumer confidence and suppress disposable incomes in the immediate future, the current austerity will force consumers to spend smart in order that they can continue to have money for ‘new' essential items such as travel.

This sentiment is backed up in a survey conducted by Carnival UK for the 2010 Cruise Report, which found that more than one in four frequent cruisers said that they would reduce other expenditure to ensure they still took their main cruise holiday in the coming year.

McWilliams continued to say that spending on travel will remain strong over the coming years and as a sector will continue to play a role in job creation.