By H. Carter

THE President of the Balearics, Francesc Antich, told local travel industry chiefs at the World Travel Market in London yesterday, that the region will see an increase in tourism next year and it will be driven by the British market.

With Germany and Europe's leading tour operator TUI announcing last week that Turkey is now Germany's top destination and fears that next year's German air tax will further hamper sales of Balearic holidays in Germany, it appears that the Balearics are putting the emphasis and focus on the UK market.

Antich told a press conference, attended mainly by members of the Balearic tourism industry, at the WTM that the British sector is now the region's principal market accounting for just over 25 percent of the market.

What is more, the President underlined the fact that the number of peak season British visitors to the Balearics this summer was two percent up on last year and Antich is forecasting a 2.5 to 3 percent over all increase in the market next year.

However, he admitted that the economic climate and the volcanic ash cloud which led to the closure of a number of UK airports earlier this year, is making it difficult to project what is going to happen next summer.

But, Balearic holiday sales for summer 2011 are already up by over 12 percent, year-on-year, so the outlook is encouraging.
The President, accompanied by the Minister for Tourism, Joana Barcelo, highlighted the number of new summer and winter flight connections between the UK and the Balearics and hailed them for being part of the improvement in the British market.

Although this winter, flights to Britain are few and far between - apart from Monarch's winter programme with three scheduled weekly flights from Gatwick and Manchester, the tour operators and the low cost airlines have reduced their schedules significantly.

But, the CityFlyer link from London's City Airport to Palma and Ibiza this summer was a success. The Balearic government did try to persuade CityFlyer to continue operating through the winter, and a number of new summer services are already programmed for next year which has given the Minister for Tourism further hope that the British market will continue to improve.

Antich also revealed that the Balearics is going to be making a concerted effort to promote new tourism services such as spa and wellness, activity and sports tourism, culture and gastronomy at a series of specialist tourism fairs across Europe over the winter.

The Balearics will also be looking to build on its relations with emerging markets in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Russia.


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