A shortage of summer holidays in the UK and travel agents advising Britons to book early means that the Balearics should, by the end of February, have a good indication as to how this summer season will eventually pan out. More than one million fewer package holidays will be on offer for this summer. Travel firms say this is partly due to the impact of the US terror attacks. The main UK operators have cut capacity by between 10% and 15%, anticipating a drop in families taking foreign trips next year. The four big players in the UK travel market JMC, First Choice, Airtours and Thomson between them arrange 80-85% of all package holidays taken. A spokeswoman for Airtours says it has cut capacity, mainly to longhaul destinations such as Florida and the Caribbean, but is offering more early-bird deals to top destinations such as the Balearics, Greece and Turkey. She adds: “This year we have been able to offer a lot more deals and incentives on early bookings but with one million less holidays the advice is don't leave it late or you may not get what you want.” Nick O'Donnell, from JMC, says: “It is not really the destinations we are cutting back but the number of seats.” Britons normally take between 19 and 20 million package holidays a year. Industry experts believe the events of September 11 and the weakening global economy could result in 10% fewer holidays being taken. However, a survey says 85% of people will not let their travel plans be influenced by the current situation. The poll, conducted on behalf of Churchill Insurance using 1'000 people, also reveals that 67% have not delayed making decisions about holidays.

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