By Humphrey Carter PALMA

LEADING UK tour operators are warning destinations like the Balearics not to get too euphoric over the prospect of a huge swing away from Egypt, Tunisia and any other possible holiday conflict zones and automatically assume that they will be heading their way.

For example, the Bulletin learnt yesterday that while Germany is pulling out of Egypt, the tour operators' first alternative destinations are certain parts of Turkey and even Malta, followed by the Canaries and parts of Italy as well as the Balearics. “While there obviously has been a significant down turn in demand for Egypt with tour operators being advised to cancel flights to certain destinations, there is no guarantee that those clients are going to go to the Balearics,” one British tour industry chief warned yesterday. “Clearly, with demand for the island already strong, up by around 20 percent on this time last year, the Balearic tourist industry, in particular the hoteliers, can't start getting too excited and greedy and start looking for a quick buck to compensate for the past few lean years. “We hope that the hoteliers, many of whom we all have long standing and very good relationships with, respect the market and their contracts and think long term. “As soon as people begin talking about the need to rush to guarantee beds, like the Spanish tour operators are being told about the Balearics because of the alleged recent surge in demand for extra beds and capacity from British, German, French and Italian tour operators, things can get complicated and everyone begins to follow suit and we don't want a battle for beds to break out. There are plenty of beds in the Balearics, Spain and the Canaries so I suggest that the Balearic and Spanish industry carries on as if it was business as usual, feel pleased that bookings from the UK are significantly up any way, and wait and see what happens,” the Bulletin was told yesterday “The Balearics can't afford to start getting wide eyed and over-hyping the situation. “As we've seen in Egypt, things can change very quickly, especially in the travel industry,” the source added.

But, the UK holiday market has certainly recuperated with many of the main tour operators reporting some of their best sales days for years over the past ten days and, on February 15, we should find out where the Britons are going this summer.

The Balearic Minister for Tourism, Joana Barcelo, made a similar statement yesterday. While admitting that the conflicts in Tunisia and Egypt could “ favourably influence” the Balearic tourist industry “the Balearic tourism industry's perspectives for this year must not depend on what's happening in Egypt and Tunisia,” she warned.