Palma.—It may seem rather early to be thinking about next Summer but it appears than tens of thousands of Britons are and many have already booked a package holiday for next summer with the Balearics already proving much more popular than this time last year.

The latest package holidays sales figures from the UK show that all of the islands are up on last year with Minorca proving particularly popular at the moment while key competitors such as Turkey, Portugal and Egypt are struggling while Greece is proving to be fairing surpassingly well, according to Hugh Morgan, the Managing Director of The Monarch Travel Group yesterday.

Optimism “We've just had the Abta convention in Turkey and while I would not use the words ‘green shoots' there was definitely a sense of optimism with regards to the coming year and the current state of the holiday market mirrors that. “Overall, the package holiday market is looking good and the industry is more up beat than it has been over the past few years with the British economy showing encouraging signs and the Pound remaining strong,” Morgan added. “We (Monarch) are expanding our airline fleet for next year so we will have more capacity to meet an expected increase in demand,” he said.
However, before the Summer, we need to get through the winter and that is not looking too good at the moment.
The latest package holiday figures show that the Spanish market is down five percent, the Balearics down four percent and Majorca down six percent with even the Canaries posting a mixed bag of results with the market down two percent overall.

But, this winter, the Balearics, and Majorca in particular, is going to have more regular air links to the UK than it has for many years so that should fuel an eventual improvement in the holiday market.

VAT warning
There is, nevertheless, a problem for the main tour operators and that is the September increase in VAT in Spain.
Yesterday, the head of operations in Spain and Andorra for tour operator TUI AG, Ian Livesey, told the President of the Balearics, Jose Ramon Bauza, that many of the tour firms are going to have the revise their prices because of the VAT hike and that could hit holiday sales to the islands in the long term. Hugh Morgan admitted that, considering that prices have gone up by around five percent in the Balearics as a result of the rise in VAT, he is surprised that package holidays to the Balearics are already selling very well. “It definitely shows how much the British public love the islands,” he claimed.
But Livesey warned Bauza that holiday makers are looking for value for money more than ever because of the European wide recession and any increase in prices reduces a destination's ability to be competitive. “And the Balearics has to be aware of the increasing competition it faces,” he warned.