Staff Reporter

THE good start to the tourist season on all the islands has caused the institutions, among them the Majorcan Chamber of Commerce, to revise their predictions for the growth of the Balearic economy this year.

The good start to the season has been reflected in the movement of passengers through the airports of Palma, Mahon and Ibiza, and the level of average hotel occupation on the three islands, which are the same as in 2006 but producing a greater profit.

The increases in the Balearic Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for this year will be revised by the Balearic Government and the CAEB (Confederation of Business Associations) at the end of the third quarter when more will be known about the impact of the services sector on the GDP.

The hoteliers associations on Majorca, Ibiza and Formentera, and Minorca agree that in May “after a poor start, hotel occupation has recovered, with the saving grace that this year profitability is higher than it was last year as hotel prices have risen”.

On Majorca, the area with the highest occupation continues to be the Playa de Palma. The President of its hoteliers association, Francisco Mari, said that “it can be said that May will be better than 2006 and June, with an expected average occupation of 90 percent, even better. We are satisfied with the way things are going and the way tourist markets are developing, especially the German and Spanish markets”.

The Spanish market is precisely the market which will save the tourist season on Minorca and Ibiza. Hotels have increased their allocation of beds to national tour operators “and this will have a logical effect of the ratios of occupation, profits and tourist expenditure on these islands”, said the head of the Balearic Institute for Tourism (Ibatur), Raimundo Alabern.

Promotional campaigns and agreements with tourist groups are working, “the increases in reservations are higher in comparison with last year, which shows that this promotional effort is working well”.

The managing director for the tourist group Orizonia, Gabriel Subias, for his part praised the promotional strategy of the Balearic Government, “undoubtedly they have made the right choice as far as the Spanish market goes by embarking on an historic tourist policy. The improvement of infrastructures, services, quality, and the latent demand which we have always had with regard to Majorca, Minorca and Ibiza is going to make this season at great one. “On the smaller islands this market will grow by over 10 percent. However, on Majorca it will not reach 10 percent owing to its spectacular increase last year”.

With regard to this, Sabias said “we have to recognise that the Balearic Ministry for Tourism has done an excellent job with the national market during its term of office this time, and it is right to recognise this”.

Globalia, Marsans and the Piñero group are also expecting an increase in Spanish tourism, while TUI Travel and Thomas Cook are forecasting an increase in the German market.

Tour operators and hoteliers always look at the development of the tourist market in May and June with a certain expectation, as this indicates how the rest of the season will go.

If the months of May, June, September and October are good, the tourist sector will have a good year, and much better in a year like 2007 as tourists are paying a good price for their hotel places.