By Humphrey Carter

MORE than a third of Britons will still take their annual summer holiday abroad no matter how hard the credit crunch bites and, according to a recent BBC survey, Spain and the Balearics continue to be the most popular destination.

The results of the survey will come as a tonic to the Balearics where many of the resorts and hotels have finally started filling up over the past week after a nervous beginning to the summer holiday season.

And there was further encouraging news yesterday with the Balearic Port Authority confirming that cruise passengers figures for the first six months of the year are 13 percent higher than 2007.

All of the region's three main cruise ports, Ibiza, Palma and Mahon have experienced substantial increases in cruise passengers. During the first half of the year, 314 cruise ships brought a total of 504'404 to the Balearics with the vast majority, 432'705 to be exact, coming to Palma.

The Bulletin recently reported that the cruise industry was managing to plot a relatively steady course through the credit crunch and, be it a cruise or a beach holiday, a large number of Britons are traveling overseas as planned this summer.

The poll of 1'007 people showed those from Scotland were the least likely to sacrifice their break in the sun.
More than 40% of those questioned also said the strong euro would affect their choice of holiday destination.
British tour operators say bookings are up this year, with the biggest growth areas outside the eurozone.
The ICM poll for the BBC showed people in the Midlands were most likely to forgo their holiday abroad, while those aged 18-24 were least willing to give up their annual summer break. Britain's biggest largest travel group TUI said bookings rose by 8%, with Turkey, Egypt and Bulgaria showing significant increases.

That was echoed by online travel company Expedia, which said bookings were up 60% in Turkey, Bulgaria and Egypt and 23% abroad overall.
Tour operator Thomas Cook says trading remains strong for summer 2008 with bookings up 14% for the first quarter of the year, while travel operators' association, Abta, said all their clients are experiencing modest increases in business.

Spain is still the most popular destination for UK tourists, according to Abta.
The Spanish Tourist Board says that the number of arrivals from the United Kingdom increased by 3% for the January-May period but the holiday makers are spending less.

In 2004, Britons spent an average of 89 euros (£70) per head per day, compared to an expected 82 euros (£65) in 2008.


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