Bel Busquets with tour operator representatives in Berlin. | Juan Luis Ruiz Collado

German tour operators intend reducing airline capacity to the Balearics because of a fall in demand. This has been a message at the Berlin ITB fair, with tour operators diverting flights to competitor destinations. The DRV travel association says that the Balearics are currently third behind Greece and Turkey in terms of preferred destinations and that bookings for those destinations are up around 58%.

Hans Müller, contracts director for Thomas Cook in Spain and Portugal, said that it was logical that there should be a rescheduling of flights. Against this background, Balearic hoteliers have been renegotiating guaranteed contracted places in order to minimise the impact of a fall in sales. The hoteliers hope that negotiations can work to the benefit of both parties and that decisions on rescheduling flights can be taken as late as possible.

Following meetings with tour operator representatives, tourism minister Bel Busquets accepted that bookings are slower than in previous years and that this is because of competition from other destinations. Although the tour operators expressed the fear that the doubled rate of the tourist tax will cut competitiveness, Busquets insisted that the government will not lower the tourist tax.

Given the faltering nature of the German market, Maria Frontera, the president of the Majorca Hoteliers Federation, explained that hoteliers have informed tour operators (German and British) that the period of early-booking discounts is to be extended. This will now be at least until the end of this month. There are hotels, she observed, which could extend the discounts for two months longer than had been envisaged.

Bookings for May are currently not as had been expected, and the uncertainties ahead of the season, Frontera observed, are not ones that the hoteliers have been used to.

While the tour operators are looking at altering their flight schedules, it has previously been reported that German airlines are not. The tour operators do, after all, constitute only part of the market.