By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
TALK of an economic recovery in the UK, forecasts of the Pound continuing its rally against the Euro continuing for the next six months, a change of government (one way or another) in May and the awful winter Britain is suffering can all work in the Balearics' favour, but the local tourist industry can by no means let its guard down, Hugh Morgan, the Majorca-based Overseas Purchasing & Operation Director for Monarch Airlines, Cosmos Holiday PLC and Co-operative Holidays told the Bulletin yesterday after having spent the past few days at the Fitur travel fair in Madrid. “It's going to be another tough year for the travel industry, there' no denying that but there are a few positive signs of an improvement,” he said yesterday. “The new Balearic stand at Fitur was splendid and after a slow start on the first day, it was really buzzing especially on Thursday, Balearic Day. It was like a film set. There seemed to be a great deal of enthusiasm amongst those at the stand and there was plenty of wheeling and dealing going on. “Although, the fair was held a week earlier than usual this year and I think that was a mistake because January is an important booking month,” he added. “Obviously, some of the suppliers like Hotel beds had a low key presence this year with smaller stands but on the Balearic stand, I got the impression that all of the island are really pushing and that is the message the UK travel industry was trying to stress at the fair. “The Balearics can't allow itself to get lulled into a false sense of security,” he said.
At the moment, holiday sales in the UK are eight percent down on the sale period last year. “But the country's been brought to a grinding halt over the past few weeks and people have been unable to get to their travel agent. But on line business has been brisk,” Morgan explained. “From an overall market point of view, Spanish holidays sales are down by 17 percent, the Balearics 15% and the Canaries 18%. But, holiday sales to Turkey have slowed and people are going to find it much more expensive when they step out of their hotels in Turkey this year. “Turkey is also a smaller market so there could eventually be a shortage of accommodation and a risk of selling out,” he added. “Turkey is no longer ‘as cheap as chips' and British holidaymakers are going to realise that this year.”

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