MINORCA'S newly created Tourism Foundation made its international debut in London this week, at London's World Travel Market tourism fair, writes Georgina Bromwich. As British tourist numbers to the island have declined steadily over the past few years, Minorcan hoteliers are optimistic that the island's presence at the fair, and its promotion as an individual destination, rather than just one of the Balearic Islands, should help increase bookings for 2006. On the first day of the fair, the association signed two important agreements with tour operators, Thomson and First Choice, guaranteeing exclusive promotion for the island. Travel agents across the UK offering Thomson and First Choice holiday packages will have promotional material for the island on display from January 2006. Both Thomson and First Choice are valued by the foundation as being familiar with the island, and able to tap into the British market. The Foundation and Minorca's hoteliers' association, ASHOME, have been in talks with Thomson since May this year, and the deal represents an investment of 290'000 euros. Minorca has not had it easy to win Thomson's support for this promotional scheme, and had to compete with Turkey and Greece who also had plans to work with Thomson to increase visitor numbers. The signing of the agreement also means that Minorcan representatives will attend Thomson's internal convention, in Birmingham, later this year, where more than 5'000 travel agents from across the country are expected.

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