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MAJORCA will be top of the agenda at the annual STEPS UK Tourism Trade Fair in London next week, and to open it will be the heir to the Spanish throne, Prince Felipe. Steps 2004, now in its fourth year, gives the British travel industry the chance to meet leading Spanish travel suppliers and experts to discuss this summer's holiday market. Majorca is sure to be an important topic of conversation.
Prince Felipe will open the exhibition on Wednesday, but seminars and face-to-face meetings will continue until Thursday. Some of the areas covered will be the UK Outbound Market, Spain's hotels, resorts and golf facilities, and exhibitors at the fair will display their extensive range of products. In light of the recent terrorist bombings in Madrid, Spain's travel specialists will be keen to reassure British tour operators, as well as leisure and business suppliers about tourism in Spain this summer. Fears of tourism in Spain suffering, as a result of the terror attack, were dismissed last week by Spain's Tourism Secretary General German Porras. “To date there have been no cancellations and the level of bookings is holding steady.” Shaun Tipton, Spokesman for ABTA, said yesterday that bookings were “slightly down, but that's only what we expected after the terrorist attack in Madrid.” He was optimistic about this summer, saying, “the market for the people going away will be buoyant.” “Tour operators are not worried, and general bookings for Spain are buoyant as well.” For Majorca the summer looks bright, after the National Institute for Statistics announced this week that February's hotel occupancy in the Balearics was well ahead of all other regions in Spain. Even with this positive start to the year, the Balearic government has this week repeated the need for a certain percentage of the hotel sector to adapt to the “all-inclusive” holiday package, to keep the interest up in the region. Shaun Tipton, from the ABTA, yesterday aimed to reassure British travellers planning a holiday in Spain this summer, saying, “they should not let ETA's threat of targeting Britons worry them.” He said that on the whole the general British public were not concerned about the threat, but that certain national newspapers help enflame the issue. “Papers like The News of the World exacerbate the problem by drawing attention to it. They are simply doing ETA's job for them.”