By Humphrey Carter

MOST of the UK's tour operators are using this weekend's May Bank Holiday to kick off the summer season and early tomorrow morning, the first of the newly formed Co-operative Holidays' first summer clients will land at Palma airport.

The Co-operative Holidays tour operator is a joint venture with Cosmos and the Monarch Group which is this year running their first summer operation with the emphasis being on the traditional family package holiday in traditional overseas destinations which have always been popular with the British, such as Majorca and the Balearics as a whole.

The operator is going to be flying passengers in to Majorca with Monarch Airlines from eight UK airports twice a week and Co-operative Holidays sources in Palma told the Bulletin yesterday that bookings for May are already at 89 percent with holidays continuing to be sold for May, June and the peak summer months.

May 1 is traditionally the start of the summer season and most of Majorca's hotels are going to be fully operational this weekend.
However, bookings are down on last year with occupation ranging from 40 to 60 percent, a drop of between five and 15 percent on May last year, depending on the resort.

But the outlook for May is encouraging, according to the President of the Majorcan Hotel Federation, Antoni Horrach. The volcanic ash crisis led to a number of forced cancellations, but as this newspaper reported yesterday, many of those clients have simply rescheduled their Majorcan holiday.

What is more, the hoteliers are offering May and June discounts of as much as 20 percent.