THE Hoteliers' Federation of Majorca confessed to “living on a knife edge” yesterday over the “uncertainty” of how holiday bookings amongst their countrymen are going to measure up this season in the Balearics.

With either a crisis or economic downturn raging in most European countries, hoteliers can only guess at whether the increase in unemployment, the cost of living index, the Euribor and the soaring cost of fuel are going to persuade Spanish holidaymakers to give their summer breaks “a miss” this year.

Federation sources pointed out that annually, a total of 1.5 million Spaniards come to the Balearics which is the third largest group in terms of nationality, beaten only by the British (2.8 million) and the Germans (3 million.). In fact, the regional tourist industry is confident that over the coming months, a similar - or even slightly larger number - of German tourists will visit the Islands. Uncertainty reigns however, as to whether the British and Spanish will visit the region in the same numbers as they did last year. Major factors underpinning the concern of the Federation are the current weakness of the Pound Sterling against the Euro and the negative forecasts for the Spanish economy.

The same sources are already indicating the fact that the start of the tourist season in the Islands “has not been as good as it was” in 2007. Heavy rainfall throughout May and the early part of June have put a damper on the three and four day breaks traditionally enjoyed by visitors to the Balearics during this period. By comparison, success last year in this form of tourism was evident in the increased income enjoyed in Majorca, above all in Palma, Palmanova and Magalluf. “At first, the Federation looked on these short break trips as something of an extra in the industry, but after a while, the number of people choosing to make such bookings has meant that it has become a large slice of the tourism cake,” said a Federation spokesman. Nevertheless, hotel occupancy in May stood at 69.3 percent, up by 1.9 percent on the same month in 2007.