INCOME for hoteliers and the complementary offer of bars, cafés and restaurants in the north of Majorca has fallen by 50 percent in comparison with figures for last year, Pilar Carbonell, the President of the Majorcan Restaurateurs Association said yesterday.

Carbonell said that the downturn was almost exclusively due to the closure of key airports across Europe as a result of Iceland's volcanic ash cloud, shutting the door to the Balearics in the face of the Islands' main client countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany.

She added that the economic situation was now extremely “delicate” for her members given that VAT is due to go up from 16 to 18 percent at the beginning of next month accompanied by an increase in electricity prices.

However, hoteliers' associations across the country, including those in the Balearics were more upbeat yesterday about the remainder of the tourist season. Reports emerging about the most recent figures show that in the first week of this month, bookings were up by 4 percent in comparison with the same period last year.

Expectations are particularly high for the recovery of the German market due to intense publicity campaigns carried out there this year and to the fact that the Germans have remained particularly faithful to Majorca and other Balearic Islands as favourite family holiday destinations.

Juan Molas, the President of the Spanish Hoteliers Confederation (Cehat) said yesterday that the euro weakening against the dollar and the UK pound has also had an “interesting” part to play in the tentative recovery of Spain's tourism market. In only the last three weeks, said Molas, there has been a 15 percent increase in the number of bookings from the British market for holidays in Spain. There has been a significant rise in the number of reservations which are being made on line, he added.