By Humphrey Carter

DEMAND for all inclusive family holiday packages in Spain is forecast to increase by around 50 percent according to the directors of the Spanish tourist offices in London and Berlin, Ignacio Vasallo and Manuel Butler respectively.

The two directors were in Palma yesterday to attend a meeting with the president of the Association of Hotel Chains, Aurelio Vazquez, and the Balearic government's Director general of Tourism Promotion, Joan Sastre to discuss the coming summer season.

Vasallo admitted that while all inclusive family holiday packages are not ideal for the Spanish tourist industry, “they are proving increasingly popular with Britons looking for a cheaper deal this year.” However, despite the recession gripping Britain and the rest of Europe, Vasallo is confident that Majorca will continue to be the country's most popular single holiday destination this year - even if a significantly large number of Britons come on an all inclusive holiday. “All inclusive are proving popular because they enable holiday makers to control their expenditure better - much of the holiday is paid before they leave,” he explained.

MAJORCA PROVIDES SO MANY OPTIONS “Majorca's always going to prove popular. With Palma served by 29 UK airports, Majorca provides Britons with so many options be it long and short stay,” he added.

Aurelio Vazquez said that the combination of demand and uncertainty amongst hoteliers about how the summer is going to perform has forced Balearic hoteliers to increase their all inclusive packages by between 25 and 50 percent.

He explained that some tour operators are already offering discounts of around 15 percent in an attempt to attract early bookers but he said the offers are only having a limited affect on the market.

According to Vazquez, if hoteliers are not satisfied with the volume of sales by the end of April, he fears many may start slashing their prices. Yesterday, he called on the hotel sector to be sensible and cautious and to take the year one step at a time and not take any rash short-term decisions.

Both Vasallo and Butler said that hoteliers should be making a greater effort to work closer with the tour operators and increase marketing and promotional campaigns.

The Spanish tourist board, Turespaña, wants a price war to be avoided at all costs. “Hoteliers are going to have to monitor the market closely and be prepared to respond to any changes when and if necessary,” the two men agreed yesterday.

Both the British and the Germans are expected to book at the last minute this year. However in Germany, according to Butler, 34 percent have yet to decide if they are going to bother travelling abroad at all for their summer holidays this year.