The Chairman of the International Federation of Tour Operators, Martin Brackenbury, said yesterday that he supports the “globalisation” of the tourist sector “because a free market has always served the tourist industry well.” Brackenbury was commenting on the mergers and acquisitions in the tourist industry this week and said that the European Commission was wrong to put the brakes on the move by Airtours to buy First Choice on the grounds that Airtours would dominate the market. Brackenbury pointed out that the majority of tourists do not organise their holidays through tour operators, suggesting that despite talk of three big companies dominating the European market, tour operators will still have to be extremely competitive. For example 46 per cent of the UK market book their holidays independently, just two per cent less than in Germany, so the tour operators still have a large market to attract and by no means have a monopoly. But hoteliers in traditional bucket and sand destinations in Europe, such as the Balearics, are dependent on the tour operators and the Balearic hotel sector will meet tomorrow (Monday) to discuss how it can protect its interests in the face of their market becoming dominated by three big tour operators.

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