Mark Tanzer in Palma today. | Teresa Ayuga

The British are certainly coming on holiday to the Balearics in droves this year, Mark Tanzer, the Chief Executive at the British Association of Travel Agents ABTA told the Bulletin in Palma today.
“Obviously the lifting of UK travel restrictions has given the industry a massive boost and given people the confidence to travel again and there has been easing on the Spanish side with regards to documentation coming in, so that all helps and I think it’s a positive sign for the summer. In fact, you can see from the reports about difficulties at UK airports that the market is coming back very strongly and some airports are struggling to get people back to work in time, so that’s another positive sign.

“I think that everybody is going to be looking for maximum value for money and I’m sure it’s the same in the Balearics. The increase in fuel costs is putting extra pressure on people’s domestic budgets, so British holidaymakers this summer are going to be very focused on value. But, that does not mean it’s about price (with regards to Turkey slashing prices by as much as 70 percent) it’s about providing good value in the destination and giving them the experience they want.

“And I think that is what the Balearics have been so good at and that’s why so many people keep coming back here and the Balearics has a great focus on quality so I don’t think there is going to be a price war with other destinations. That’s not what people are about, it’s about getting a really high quality experience.

“And, considering we’ve had two years when many people have not had an overseas holidays, it was stop start through the pandemic, so people could not really get going and of course, the UK is a fantastic holiday destination in its own right, but it’s no substitute for the sunshine in Spain and the Balearics . Yes there is pent up demand and ABTA members are reporting very strong bookings from people who want to get travelling again.”

That said, Tanzer said that he would have liked to have seen the British government ease its travel restrictions earlier than it finally did.
“Yes, of course, we’ve always said that we’ll follow what the medical advice is because it’s more important to put public health ahead of making a profit, but I think some of the restrictions overstayed their welcome. Passenger locator forms in the UK didn’t really have much utility. But it’s gone now, and I think that once you’ve got community spreading of coronavirus, then it does not make a lot of sense to try and control it by closing the borders. You might gain a little bit of time if there is pressure on hospitals, but once it’s in the community, quite frankly trying to stop people coming in when the virus is already travelling around the country does not make a lot of sense.

“It’s always going to be a competitive market, tourism by nature is very competitive, but Spain and the Balearics have a very strong position in the UK market and I am sure that will carry on because the Balearics does what it does very well and that’s not going to change.
“The Balearics is a beautiful location, it’s got high quality hotels and restaurants, it’s got all the facilities that you need and it’s got the human capacity to manage things extremely well and that is what makes it a very good experience for people who visit.

“And my message to the local authorities would be to continue focusing on that really high quality experience, we all know that getting up and running again after hibernation or semi-hibernation is not straight forward, getting all the basics of health and safety, cleaning and everything done has to work so the sooner we can get people back in and back up to where we were before the pandemic, that will be an important bonus, so people do have the experience they are expecting when they get here.
“And, my advice for people in the UK planning on booking a holiday is book now.
“It’s always best to book early if you want to secure your holidays and get it at a good rate.
“I think people who are banking on some great last minute deals might be surprised to find that the availability is not there and then people will possibly be exposed to higher costs because of rising fuel prices,” Tanzer said.

And, Manuel Butler, the Director at Spanish Tourist Office in London was similarly upbeat.
He is by no means concerned about other destinations slashing their prices, in fact he was keen to point out that due to rising fuel and operating costs flights to the likes of Turkey and Greece will be more expensive than Spain and the Balearics.

“There is huge pent up demand in the UK and millions of people are desperate to get away, to travel.
“It’s too early to talk about numbers, but flight capacity between the UK and the Balearics is just three percent lower than in 2019 and I envisage robust recuperation in the UK market in the Balearics, so much so, it could prove to be an even stronger summer than 2019.

“And, Mallorca will sell because of what Mallorca stands for and represents in the market.
“It’s a tried and tested quality destination which is safe.
“There are countries in the Eastern Mediterranean which still have Covid restrictions in place and the health situation is not as secure and people will be taking that into account when booking.
“The war has not dented the UK’s desire to travel and Mallorca is proving to be as attractive, if not more so, than ever and I can see a very strong summer 2022 coming,” Butler said yesterday.