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By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
SPANISH travel agents are warning that, as soon as Tunisia and Egypt return to normal after the recent unrest, both countries will flood the European holiday market with cut price deals and urged the Balearics and the Canaries not to get locked in a price war with the two destinations.

The islands have been the big winners from the political crisis in both Tunisia and Egypt which has also put holiday makers off North African destinations in general, but yesterday, the President of the Spanish Federation of Travel Agent Associations, Rafael Gallego, warned that the tourist industries in Tunisia and Egypt will mount a highly competitive counter attack in a desperate attempt to win back as many of its lost tourists as possible this summer.

Gallego expressed fears of a so-called “boomerang” affect which could see the late bookers cashing in on super offers to travel to Egypt and Tunisia once the tourist industries have resumed business as usual and the tour operators and airlines have relaunched their flights to the troubled destinations.

The Federation president stressed that price is king and that is going to work both in favour of Spain and against some of its destinations because, on price, Spain can not compete with the North African destinations.

However, in the case of the UK where a significant increase in Spanish holiday sales, especially to the Balearics, has been witnessed over the past three months, the majority of people have apparently booked their summer holiday and long before the unrest broke out in the Eastern Mediterranean, so if there is a late swing, if would probably be minimal.

What the Spanish travel industry needs to be worrying about more is the proposed industrial action at the country's airports.
Spanish airports could close down over the busy Easter holidays as the country's workers' unions threaten to strike. After negotiations with the government over the controversy and unpopular part privatisation of the AENA civil aviation agency broke down, unions warned of industrial action during rallies in Palma and across the country last weekend.

Airports all over the country could be affected if the strikes take place, with airport employees, including fire fighters and baggage handlers, considering action between April 22 and 25. The strikes may even last until Spain's general elections on May 22, according to some reports.

Last December, 400'000 travellers were left stranded at Spanish airports and the government issued a ‘state of alarm' when workers downed tools with no warning. Striking employees were threatened with prison and the military were brought in to supervise the deserted control towers.

Airport staff also threatened to strike last year at a key time for Spanish tourism in July and August.
The effort was thwarted, however, when business owners slammed the plans.