HOTELS in the Balearic Islands have claimed the highest occupancy rates in the country this summer, the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Establishments (Cehat) reported yesterday.

Hotel occupancy across Spain has been 5 percent higher this summer than for the same period in 2009, Cehat confirmed. The position is largely thanks to hotels strategically placed in “sun, sea and sand” holiday resorts where occupancy averaged out at 75 percent. Cehat warned that despite the increase in reservations, industry profitability is threatened by the fact that hoteliers were forced by tour operators to drop their prices almost at the start of the season, and then for a second time by way of “last minute offers” to attract undecided holiday-makers.

Asked about his assessment of this year's tourist season, Cehat President Juan Molas said yesterday in Madrid that results were “very unequal”. In some cases, such as the Balearics, occupancy rates were touching a seasonal average of 85 percent whereas hotels in the interior were stretching to no more than 40 percent.

Molas said that he hoped that prices “would be somewhat better” in 2011 but confirmed that they would only pick up when demand improved. He expressed great concern about the downturn in occupancy of hotels in the interior, particularly in regions where people who traditionally earned a living from agriculture or keeping livestock had turned to tourism. “Urgent measures are needed to create alternative tourist attractions in these areas,” said Molas.