Palma.—This is it for the Balearic tourist industry. Today is August 1 and the next five to six weeks are going to make or break the season.
In the United Kingdom, for example, about 5 percent of the population are still undecided about taking a break, meaning that over two million people may be tempted to book a last minute holiday and according to Hugh Morgan, the Managing Director of the Monarch Travel Group, there are still plenty of holidays on the shelves. “This has been the latest booking year I've ever known. People are literally booking in the morning to fly out that very afternoon. But, over the past two weeks there has been quite a lot of very late activity on the high streets and 70 percent of holidays sold over the past few weeks will be taken over the coming five to six, so we should start seeing resorts filling up over the next few weeks,” he said on the release of the latest market figures which are still down on last year. “Not everyone is excited about the Olympics and, as I know, getting tickets has not been easy, and the weather has been dreadful so people just want to get away - but they're leaving it late. “It's been a strange year. Not only because of the recessions across Europe but also Spain's reactions to overseas tourist markets. “We've continued to have a good relationship with the Spanish Tourist Board, Turespaña here in London but, for example, with the Balearic tourism authorities, there has been next to no contact at all, no coordination what so ever and that has obviously been a huge disadvantage for the Balearics. “And, the threats of strike did not help nor is the increase in VAT and airport taxes which will only mean that holidays will be more expensive next year. “Our contracts account for such events, so our clients should not be hit, but others may find themselves having to pay extra at the last minute to cover the hikes in operating costs and VAT in Spain,” Morgan said. “I think there has been an increase in the number of people going on ‘dynamic package holidays' which is when they literally build their own holiday, but across the market as a whole, there have been few winners this year. “Only North Africa is doing well and very well indeed but the market overall is down six percent and short haul holidays are three percent short of last year,” Morgan said stating the latest GFK market figures. “Spain needs to keep a close eye on its competitors because Greece, for example, has gained a lot of ground despite its problems and only last week, Greece sent a huge tourism delegation to London to talk serious business and get the industry moving again and I think it proved successful. It's a shame we have not seen a similar attitude from Spain and the Balearics. “It looks like the Balearics have given up on this year and are looking to 2013 but there's plenty of summer left to go and what about the winter? “There will be many more flights this winter but the Balearics has got to be open for business,” Morgan underlined. “However, dealing with the present, as of July 25, we had no reports of over booking in Spain and the Balearics, bar a few in Magalluf, but hopefully we'll see a huge surge in demand and lift into the Balearics over the coming month,” he added. “It's not over yet.”