President Armengol and tourism minister Iago Negueruela at Wednesday's presentation for the ITB Berlin fair. | Govern de les Illes Balears

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The ITB Berlin tourism fair, the world's largest tourism fair but this year being held virtually, heard forecasts from the Balearics on Wednesday of higher tourist numbers than before the pandemic.

President Armengol, speaking from the Palacio de Congresos in Palma, confirmed that there is "great demand and that the forecasts are very good for the summer". Leading tour operators, she said, have told the government that the Balearics "is the best positioned destination in the Mediterranean for the summer season".

German tourism, the president noted, will continue to be the main source market, "so our message for the fair is that we are the destination of the future due to our commitment to circularity, quality and to improving working conditions". The government's forecast is that this summer "will be normal in all respects".

Tourism minister Iago Negueruela explained that, in 2021, the Balearics recovered 50% of 2019 German tourism and that the level of tourist spending exceeded that before the pandemic. "The forecasts are optimal, and we will be the leading tourist destination."

The Balearic expectations for the summer were, nevertheless, against the background of events in Ukraine, Armengol attacking Russia's "violence". It has provoked "international condemnation, but together we will overcome this terrible situation".

The upbeat forecast didn't reflect the degree of uncertainty that has arisen as a consequence of the war. For example, Javier Vich, the president of the Palma-Cala Major Hoteliers Association, says that over the past week there has been a halt in bookings from the main tourism markets.

The travel associations in the UK and Germany, ABTA and DRV, point to a slowdown in reservations, while there is talk among the island's hoteliers of a slump in bookings for Easter and summer of up to 40%. However, one tour operator - TUI Deutschland - reports there having been "no fundamental change" to bookings activity.