This weekend marks the start of one of the longest and busiest tourist seasons in history in the Balearics, hoteliers reported today. All of the market indications from the UK and local tourism industries since before the end of last year have been pointing towards a sharp increase in demand in the UK and German market. Sources in the UK have warned this week, as the Bulletin has reported, that Majorca is nearing saturation point and this was confirmed by leading local hoteliers today.

The UK market is the one which is performing the strongest with bookings at least 19 per cent up on last year, depending on the resort. In some cases the figure is greater, while continuing insecurity in Turkey has sparked a late surge in demand for holidays in Majorca and other Balearic islands in Germany.

This is why Alcudia (British) and Peguera (German) are reportedly nearly sold out for the season already. And the Majorcan Hoteliers Federation said today that 52 per cent of hotels will be open for Easter while come 1 May, 100 per cent will be open.  Moreover, there will be no post-Easter slump in business this year.

Traditionally, there is a drop off in bookings between Easter and the official start of the season at the beginning of May, but because of demand hotels are going to start opening with post-Easter occupancy currently standing at around 70 per cent, a phenomenon not seen for decades.

And industry sources say that very few people are going to sacrifice their holidays this year. With family holiday prices on average 5.4 per cent more expensive than last year (lthough there have been claims of a 80% hike for last minute bookers in the UK) people are going to simply delay their holidays - which will help lengthen the season in the Balearics.

Tourist tax reaction

The hoteliers, meanwhile, are not happy with the tourist tax, describing it as a deception. The Majorca Hoteliers Federation, all along opposed to the introduction of the tourist tax, has given its official response to Tuesday’s approval of the tax legislation by the Balearic parliament.

In a statement, the federation said today that they were appealing for there to be responsibility and planning in tourism policy to allow for sustainability through investment. This in turn would create more and better jobs and would contribute social value to the Balearic economy.

For investment to take place, the federation argues, it is essential to not hinder increases in tourist business profitability. It points out that only by improving investment will social value be achieved. Everything else, it suggests, is "deception" which is going to have serious consequences for the Balearic economy.

This was evident, the federation goes on, in the way that once the legislation was approved on Tuesday there was an urging to speed up regularisation of holiday rentals "without taking account of the effects this will have on the environment, welfare and land". Tourism policy was being developed behind the backs of the business sector. But the federation’s president, Inma Benito, said that no other formula has been invented for creating employment and therefore greater welfare than that which comes via businesses.

The tax legislation "directly attacks the global competitiveness of the Balearics", adds the federation, while the application of tax revenue is still "unknown".