By Humphrey Carter MAJORCA is bracing itself for a record summer season with Britain and Germany's leading tour operators posting healthy holiday sales figures and hoteliers reporting that bookings are up on last year. June, for example, despite the World Cup in Germany, is going to be busier than June last year with hotel bookings up by 20 percent and that is expected to set the trend for the rest of the summer season. Inadvertently, the recent Egypt resort bombings and the bird flu scare in Turkey have diverted much of the family holiday trade to traditional destinations such as Spain and, in particular the Balearics. Despite the Balearic Tourism Minister, Joan Flaquer's reluctance to get too excited, “it's early days”, he had admitted that the market outlook is good and much more encouraging than last year. The association of Balearic travel agents (Aviba) is claiming that, based on the latest reports from Great Britain and Germany, Majorca is enjoying the best start to a tourism season since 1999 with hotel occupancy for May 15 percent greater than May last year. As a result, more jobs are going to be created and tourism is going to generate more money this year. From hotel complexes to the five star and agro/rural tourism sectors, the forecasts are all positive with Majorca's rural tourism market enjoying brisk business in the UK, Germany and Spain while emerging markets, especially Eastern Europe, also continue to grow at a steady pace. Travel groups TUI and Thomas Cook have both seen the number of British and German clients coming to Majorca grow this year. The number of British holidaymakers coming to the islands over the next two months, May and June, is well up on last year. What is more, these reports and figures are from the tour operators and travel agents, primarily the package holiday market. What they do not account for is further growth in the independent holiday market and the low-cost airline fuelled boom in residential tourism. The latter is expected to become one of the main tourism markets within the next decade with more and more overseas home owners expected to move into the Balearics and across Spain in general.


MONEY