By Humphrey Carter

THE newly appointed Balearic Minister for Tourism, Joana Barcelo, was back on her home soil yesterday for top level talks with British travel industry chiefs in Minorca.

The Chairman of ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents, John McEwan, had travelled to the island accompanied by Hugh Morgan, Director of Monarch & Cosmos Holiday PLC and Co-operative Holidays, to confirm that the Minorcan Hotel Association (ASHOME) has been admitted as one of the latest members of ABTA.

In doing so, ASHOME becomes the first Spanish tourism body to join ABTA and Association president Joan Melis believes that the island's tourist industry will significantly benefit from the support of ABTA and its network of travel agents in the UK.

Melis is also confident that, by being a member of ABTA; Minorca's position in the British travel sector will enjoy a much higher profile and from the ABTA website, there will be direct links to the English version of

McEwan also took a very important message to the Minorca meeting which apart from Barcelo, was also attended by the head of the Balearic tourism promotion body Ibatur, Susana Sciacovelli and Minorca's new Director General for Tourism, Vicenç Torres, amongst others.

McEwan echoed what Hugh Morgan has been trying to install into the minds of the Majorcan holiday market for the past few months, in particular the hotel industry, that they need to get their pricing right for the months of May and June.

The general election, which is expected in May, and the subsequent World Cup in June, are two factors which will affect UK holiday bookings and McEwan told the Minorcan sector that, in order to compete with the cheaper destinations like Turkey and Egypt, it has got to get its pricing right and as quickly as possible.