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STAFF REPORTER PALMA

BOOKINGS for holidays in the Balearic Islands over Easter are up between 5 and 10 percent in comparison with the same period last year, Aurelio Vazquez, President of the Balearic Hotel Association said yesterday.

But, despite claims last month from the hoteliers that they will all be open for Easter, Vazquez said yesterday that forecasts are that only 45 percent of the hotels are going to be open over Easter, some 540 establishments. He explained that because there is a full month to go from the Easter holiday dates this year until the start of May when the tourist season officially begins, many hoteliers have opted not to open on 1st April.

Those who have chosen to wait until 1st May, said Vazquez, are claiming that the profits they would make during the Easter break are not sufficient to offset the costs of staying open during the gap between Easter Monday and the 1st May.

Nevertheless, claimed Vazquez, despite the gap, bookings appear to be “slightly better” than the same period last year with year-on-year growth of between 5 and 10 percent. “We've still yet to have the bulk of the season's bookings confirmed,” he warned. The tendency for key client countries, and other visitors, to wait until the last moment before making holiday reservations has meant that Balearic hoteliers are not given much warning of just how many they are going to be catering for. Vazquez said that his association widely believed that the “last minute” trend which was very much in evidence during the summer season of 2009, was largely due to the economic crisis, with clients “hanging on to their cash” as long as possible. As a result, customers have developed the habit of seeing if there are any “pre-start-of-season” bargains which they can take advantage of.

Vazquez said that under normal circumstances, hotel prices go up during traditional holiday periods such as Easter but because of the “wait and see” culture developed during the recession, hoteliers are forced to slash their prices to sell off the excess offer which remains unsold close to peak holiday times. The hoteliers' association already recognises that customers from the rest of Spain also tend to “hang on until the last minute” so far as their Easter holidays in the Balearics are concerned to check what the weather's going to be like.

Despite the increase in Easter bookings this year, Vazquez described the tourist activity in the Balearics over the spring holiday as “minimal” because there were still so many hotels closed and because business was concentrated over just a few days. Reservation data shows that the most demand for hotel places on Majorca during Easter is in the Bay of Palma and in Alcudia.