Dear Sir,

(Reply to Alan Morris, letters Sunday, in which he criticised an earlier letter by Mrs. Brenda Wall, calling her comments confusing, biased and undemocratic).

I mention the Club Aguamar because it has been the subject of four years of holidaymakers returning to the UK with Salmonella and Cryptosporidium.
There are four large Group Actions in the UK with over a thousand holidaymakers pursuing claims for illnesses contracted while staying at this hotel.
Most of the British population is aware of what happened at the Club Aguamar from 1997 to 2000.
Having mentioned the Club Aguamar, I did not want to embarrass the island of Majorca further by mentioning the list of other hotels where illnesses have been confirmed from holidaymakers who stayed at these hotels and returned home to pursue claims for damages for illnesses contracted while staying in Majorca.

Holidays taken I might add, on an all-inclusive basis, where there is no need to eat outside of the hotel.
I have not been involved in inventing the titles for the television programmes I mentioned, I do not work in television or produce the programmes.
I represent the British holidaymakers and my organisation campaigns on behalf of holidaymakers who have suffered appalling holidays abroad with illness and injury.

I find your comments about “after all surely most of them are in bed recovering from appalling holidays!” distasteful. These programmes are televised twelve months after the holidays have been taken and hopefully by then, I hope that many of the holidaymakers will have fully recovered.

The attitude you have adopted is typical of the attitude adopted by many tour operators and hoteliers. The problems are not just in Majorca, they are elsewhere in the world, but Majorca was a popular destination for both British and German tourists alike, and whatever you might say, there is a decline in figures.

My comments were in reply to recent comments in the Majorcan press relating to the drop in tourism figures and were made with genuine concern for the island of Majorca.

They were also made in the hope that someone, whoever that may be, would take note of my comments and look at the bigger picture. British holidaymakers are not staying away from Majorca because of the possible new hotel tax or for any other reason. I hear what the British consumers say to my organisation and the reason they are staying away is because they do not feel it is safe to spend their holidays in Majorca and running the risk of returning home with their health affected.

My final words to you would be “Take heed of what happened in the Dominican Republic.”

Brenda Wall. Founder & Managing Director. Holiday TravelWatch

brenda.wall@which.net
http://www.holidaytravelwatch.com

No complaints

Dear Sir,
Our website is one of the most visited holiday review websites on the internet.
Our main site www.holidaytruths.co.uk is for holidaymakers to post their own reviews of accommodation. Holidaytruths.co.uk, has had over 1 million visitors.
Our database for Majorca currently has over 127 various hotels and apartments that have been reviewed by holidaymakers to your Island. The overall reviews are very favourable I must add.

Attached to our main site is our forums at http://www.holidaytruths.co.uk/forums.html.
Here members and visitors can read, ask questions or seek advice from holidaymakers who have visited various countries, resorts and accommodation. We have over 2'900 members and the forums have 1'000 visitors a day.

In the last 9 months we have received over 244'000 visits to our forum site. Majorca is once again our most popular forum with over 2'245 postings.
We have not had any major complaints within this forum this year regarding Majorca or its accommodation.
I, therefore, feel justified in saying that according to our statistics Majorca is still a very popular Island with the British people.

Glynis Wieczorek. Senior Administrator.

www.holidaytruths.co.uk/forums.html

Future of airline industry

The airline industry is in a state of flux and the major carriers are some of the biggest losers. The problems which the larger airlines are suffering can be traced further back than September 11...they started when the first “non frills” airline took to the sky. This concept is nothing new, Freddie Laker introduced it in the late 1970s. You would have thought that the main European carriers would have tried to copy his concept, basically, cheap travel with no frills. But no. And now some of the non-frills airlines are worth more than the European flag carriers according to their share-price. It is only a matter of time before there are no-frills services across the Atlantic.

No frills airlines are also good news for places like Majorca.
I've always felt that the budget airlines have done plenty to boost British tourism to Majorca. Before a holiday home owner would come to the island twice a year because basically is was so expensive and flights were difficult to find. Enter the no-frills service and now they are coming down five or six times a year.

No-frills airlines are the future of the aviation industry in Europe and the major airlines will just have to re-invent themselves with more emphasis on cost-cutting and low fares.

The first class/business class market is indeed lucrative but it is only open to a select few.
The airline industry has undergone a small revolution but unfortunately some people failed to see it coming and now they are paying the consequences.

Jason Moore

Buying your job

The news that Labour MPs have each been told to donate nearly £1'000 every year to the party to help clear a deficit estimated to be “betwen £6m and £10m” beggars belief. Not only do these MPs have to sit impotently for long hours in the House of Commons until ordered through the voting lobby to support some policy that they don't much like, but they have to pay for the privilege! Perhaps the idea is a variation of the now defunct apprenticeship system whereby you paid your employer while you were learning on the job - but the MPs may wonder what benefit they will get in the long term when they have mastered the skill of being uncomplaining lobby-fodder.

Both Conservative and Labour parties are heavily in debt; membership is declining and constituency fees and contributions from coffee mornings are falling as a result. Sponsorhip by sympathetic outside organisations is an increasingly attractive alternative but the risk of subsequent Enron-style accusations of influence peddling is considerable, especially for a party in power. Last week the Labour Party found itself having to defend itself over contributions from big business and trade unions, even though the amounts involved were well under £100'000 trivial by the standards of party finances. Sooner or later the desirability of state funding of political parties, especially for election periods, will have to be faced despite obvious difficulties. If direct funding seems inappropriate it should be possible for a publicly funded electoral commission to buy TV and press advertising space and allocate it the parties.

Monitor

What no Minister for Tourism?

I didn't really want to argue about tourism again this week, but after all with the big fair on in Madrid, Fitur 2002, it is the focal point of Balearic tourist discontent.

Discontent from the tourist industry, that is, and desperation by the Balearic tourist departments to create a good image.
Meanwhile, the first Spanish tourist lobby has been created - lobby has become an accepted word in the Spanish language - known as Exceltur. It aims to defend the interests of tourism and promote its recognition as a generator of wealth - 8 percent of the national GNP (Gross National Product) - which is not “moco de pavo” as a Spaniard would say; lit. “not a turkey's crest” meaning not a trivial thing to be laughed at.

This lobby is made up of thirty principal tourist businesses in Spain, and includes several important ones from the Balearics, such as Barcelo and Sol Meliá. This venture has been praised by the Spanish Secretary of State for Commerce and Tourism, Juan José Guemes and therein lies the rub.

How come, if tourism is said to have become the main economic activity of the country, there is not a Minister of Tourism, since the correct control of this activity would seem to be of prime importance?

In Franco's time, one of the most controversial Ministers of Tourism was Manuel Fraga, present President of Galicia in northern Spain, and who was eventually exiled off as Ambassador in London after his disagreements with the Spanish leader.

But since then the post has been camouflaged as part of different ministries, such as Communications, and now is simply a secretaryship.
Hardly a privileged and prominent situation for a person in charge of what must be considered to be the most important industry in the country by all those who work in and for it.

Surely this must be an example of where the idea of a united great Spain comes into force and how there are obvious breakdowns in necessary communications with the system of different autonomous communities. No, I am not arguing in favour of a return to Franco's ideal, but if there is a reason for having a central government, surely it is to make sure that the different autonomous communities do not go around shooting themselves in the feet with policies that do intrinsic harm?

Naturally what works well for one region may not be the best answer in another and the Balearics are striving to combat what is generally called Balearisation, that is an over constructed coastline.

But it would seem that at the moment, foot-shooting is at a maximum in our part of Spain since tourism is on the decline as is building thanks to the moratorium. You only have to ask about reservations in the first case and about sales at builders' suppliers in the second. Both industries have been prime suppliers of employment in the Balearics, so if these decrease, we shall probably become the region in Spain that has the highest unemployment and a decreasing community GNP.

Anne Kay

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