BRITISH TOURISTS ON THE INCREASE

“MAJORCA'S got everything” said Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis yesterday and he is not talking about the local football team... In 1952, Doug Ellis brought the first package holiday clients to Majorca; he was the pioneer of the Majorcan package holiday industry, and while the Balearic tourist industry watches the German market nose dive, the British are still coming and Ellis believes they always will. They have done since 1952, when he served the sandwiches he made to his clients on board a Dakota which took five-and-a-half hours to get from the UK to Palma. By the time the Doug Ellis tour company and travel agents reached their peak, he was flying some 3'000 people into Spain per week, and the majority to Majorca. He said yesterday that he has seen Bulgaria being promoted as the new destination on German television with everything being half the price, but he cannot envisage the British ever turning their backs on the Balearics. When Ellis eventually moved away from the travel industry into other areas, he had enjoyed 27 years as one of the pioneers of the UK package holiday market to Spain, with flights out of nearly all major UK and Irish airports and with five hotels, one of which he still owns in Majorca. He also still owns a house in Son Vida which he visits as often as possible. But, on yesterday's figures that tourism was down by six percent in the Balearics last month, in stark contrast to an increase on the mainland of five percent, Ellis admitted that travel habits are changing in the UK. Although, he did point out that other Mediterranean destinations, which are offering a cheaper alternative are proving popular again this year. A report released on Monday claimed that bookings to Turkey were up by 120 percent. Last month, passenger traffic through Palma airport was up by 1.48 percent on June 1999 and figures released yesterday in Madrid state that 67 percent of foreign visitors to the Balearics are staying in apartments as opposed to hotels and what is more, in May, 47 percent of apartment clients were from the UK, as opposed to just 28 percent from Germany. Ellis said that the birth of the no frills airline in Britain has changed the market and is the main reason why the package holiday is losing some of its attraction. “More people are using the likes of easyJet and staying in apartments, villas or friends' houses,” it has all been made so much easier, quicker and more cost effective. The airport figures for June clearly show that the British tourism industry to Majorca is as strong as ever, if not more so - the tourists just do not appear to be staying in hotels, preferring apartments or private accommodation.

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