By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE second half of the year up turn in tourism in the Balearics continued last month with the Ministry for Tourism, Commerce and Industry reporting yesterday that the number of foreign visitors to the region during October was nearly seven percent higher than in October, 2009.

But, despite the Balearics having welcomed 8'975'350 foreign tourists during the first ten months of the year, 2.3 percent more than last year and second only to Catalonia, the hoteliers claim that they have not witnessed any increase in bookings.

The President of the Majorcan Hotel Federation, Marilen Pol, said yesterday that the seven per cent rise in foreign tourists last month did not translate into a similar rise in hotel occupancy.

Pol said that it appears that an increasing number of foreign visitors are staying in “residential accommodation” which could be apartments or with family and friends.

Pol admitted that while the Balearics was the third most popular destination last month being visited by 800'000 foreign tourists and that the figures suggest a recuperation in the holiday market “the over all situation of the market has not changed significantly.” While this year's figures are slightly up on last year's Pol stressed that 2009 was the worst year for tourism in 25 years and that hotel bookings during the first half of this year were “very bad”.

Pol did recognise that the market has improved during the second half of the year but, while foreign visitor figures were up by nearly seven percent last month, hotel bookings rose by just three percent.

The Spanish market as a whole appears to be picking up with the outlook for 2011 looking better with bookings already up for the Balearics and the mainland for next summer.

Spain received 4.8 million foreign tourists in October, a 4.2 per cent increase on the same period last year.
The total number of tourists coming to Spain as a whole for the first 10 months of this year increased by a mere 1.2 per cent.
Spain managed to continue positive growth in October despite a drop in tourists from England and Germany by 2.2 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively. But the losses were apparently compensated by a boost from Scandinavian, Italian and the Dutch markets.

Tourist arrivals from Scandinavia rose by 28.3 per cent and 23.5 per cent more Italians visited the country in October.
Visitors from Netherlands also increased by 33.6 per cent according to the Spanish Tourism Ministry.
Experts believe that positive growth in October, despite the drop in tourists from Germany and UK is very good news for Spain.
The Ministry for Tourism said that the figures indicate that Spain has started to penetrate new markets and hopefully in the upcoming years will reduce its dependency on Germany, where Turkey is now the most popular destination, and the UK where sales for the Balearics next summer, for example, are up by 20 percent year-on-year.

But, the first 10 month increase in tourists coming to Spain of only 1.2 per cent received a mixed welcome yesterday. Some tourism experts were expecting much more. However they believe that the Icelandic volcanic eruption may have had some impact on the tourist arrivals to Spain and, overall, experts are happy to have seen some signs of a recovery in the tourism sector.

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