Palma.—After last year's upturn in the Balearic tourist industry, the trend appears to be gathering further momentum with the Balearic tourism authorities and hoteliers having been approached by the leading British, German and Russian tour operators who want to increase their capacity in the Balearics this year.

The tour operators want to up their accommodation quotas by between ten and 15 percent.
The Balearic Government's Director of Tourism Promotion, Jaime Martinez, said yesterday that the number of visitors coming to the region last year was between eight and ten percent higher than during 2010 and the forecasts for this year point to an even sharper increase. “It's going to be a good season,” Martinez stated but he said that, at the moment, it is impossible to give any figures.
But, while the international market is booming, there remain problems with the domestic market, although Martinez is confident that there will be a slight increase in the number of domestic visitors this year.

However, the problem is that many mainlanders consider the Balearics to be expensive and they also have the added costs of catching flights or ferries to get here and they are not entitled to the 50 percent resident discounts.

British Ambassador
The President of the Majorcan Hotel Federation, Inma de Benito, said that her sector will not have a clear indication of how the season is going to pan out until next month, but she admitted that continuing problems in North Africa and the Middle East will continue to work in the Balearics's favour.

Bolstering the British holiday market's commitment to Spain was the British Ambassador to Spain, Giles Paxman, who visited the fair and the Balearic stand in particular yesterday.

As market reports have clearly indicated over the past few weeks, the Balearics is very much back in fashion with the British tourist industry and consumers this year with bookings to all of the islands up on last year with the busy booking period expected next week.

Unofficially, the word is that tourism figures will increase by a further 10 percent this year and Spanish Airport and Air Traffic Control Authority, AENA, has provided further evidence by revealing that demand from the airlines for more landing and take off slots at Palma, Ibiza and Mahon airports has risen by 50 percent.

Some Balearic hoteliers are already experiencing a 50 percent increase in sales to the UK and German market and the President of Meliá Hotels International, Gabriel Escarrer, said that tourists will continue to be diverted to the Balearics this year because of the problems sparked by the Arab Spring and that is why this summer will be much better than 2011. The sales forecasts we are getting from the UK, Germany and Russia, where demand is up by around 12 percent, indicate that this summer will be a very profitable one.” SEE PAGE 6


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