REPRESENTATIVES of the Balearic tourist sector yesterday blamed the appreciation of the euro against the pound sterling as one of the main factors in the drop of bookings by British visitors to Majorca. A spokesman for AVIBA (the Balearic travel agents association) said yesterday that British tourists had the option of travelling to resorts outside the euro zone, such as Turkey, Croatia, some Eastern European countries and the Caribbean, “which have reduced their prices significantly because their currency has depreciated.” He pointed out that prices here are increasing in relation to the pound sterling, even though hoteliers have not raised their charges, and a ten percent increase in prices -the depreciation of the pound against the euro in the past few months- represents “a lot of money” for the British tourist who stays in three star or lower category hotels. The spokesman said that a three to five percent increase in tour operators' prices “could mean a considerable drop in demand,” although he pointed out that “the hoteliers are not to blame for this increase.” In the past, devaluating the peseta was “a tool of the Spanish government to continue to be a competitive country, not just for tourism but also for exports.” However, the appreciation of the euro is not the only cause which justifies the drop in British tourism, as, according to local hoteliers, the fast spreading habit of booking holidays at the last minute, in the hope of finding a bargain, is also exercising an influence. Hoteliers traditionally complain of a poor start to the season.
This year, however, many hotels which used to open at the beginning of May did not do so until the middle of the month, because of a lack of bookings.
Part of the blame for the situation is put on the growing trend for self-catering holidays, fuelled by the low-cost no frills airlines, which make it easier for the independent traveller to take short breaks. The hoteliers are not very optimistic about June, either, because of the Eurocup.
However, advance bookings indicate that July, August and the early part of September will be better than last year.