By Humphrey Carter PALMA

LAST month, reports emerged from the UK that Britons were starting to book last minute holidays, especially to short haul sunshine locations to watch the World Cup and it would appear that the Balearics has benefited from that because local hotels registered the first upturn in overnight stays for two years during May.

According to a report published yesterday by the National Statistics Institute, Balearic hotels handled 5'407, 660 overnights stays, five percent more than during May, 2009.

And, of those overnight stays, 4.8 million were foreign guests, with a year-on-year 2.5 percent rise in the number of British visitors, staying an average of 5.8 days in the region.

There was further good news because Balearic hotels were also the busiest in Spain last month and, again, the most popular destination for overseas holiday makers.

Average hotel occupation in the Balearics last month was a little over 58 percent, slightly higher than 56.8 percent in Madrid and 53.5 percent in the Canary Islands.

It appears to be Majorca leading the Balearic revival.
The island was second most popular singular holiday destination in Spain last month with hotel occupation at 61 percent, nearly one point up on May last year.

The leading UK tour operators, as the Bulletin has been reporting since the start of the year, spent the beginning of the year trying to press upon the Balearic hotel sector the importance of offering incentives to attract clients to the region during May and June, primarily by offering some special offers.

It appears that they finally listened to the industry experts and the results have proven positive.
The figures were yesterday welcomed by the Association of the Balearic Hotel Chains (ACH).
Its president, Aurelio Vazquez, said yesterday that the first upturn in overnight hotel stays for two years has been “long awaited” and added that he hopes the trend will continue as we move towards peak season.

However, he issued a word of caution, describing the reports as “relatively good news” considering the down turn in bookings the hotel sector has suffered over the past few months. “But, these figures coincide with the start of the summer season and if this trend does continue, we will enjoy a better season than last year,” he added. “We've suffered so many months of a decline in hotel bookings, hopefully these figures will mean that we've hit rock bottom and from now on, things will only get better. “But, it's all going to very much depend on the late booking market and this may well work in the favour of Spain and the Balearics because Turkey and Greece are fully booked and Greece has serious problems with its image because of its economic problems,” Aurelio Vazquez added.