“Every year there are winners and losers in the tourist industry, and this year Spain is a loser,” said the head of corporate affairs for the Association of British Travel Agents Keith Betton yesterday and the outlook for the Balearic tourist industry next year is bleak on the British market with the leading tour operators saying that hotel and apartment owners are to blame. The writing has been on the wall since the World Travel Market in London, but it appears that the Balearic delegation ignored the warnings. Hugh Morgan, the Purchasing Director for tour operator JMC says that Balearic property owners are to blame for the sales crisis in the islands and sending prices through the roof. JMC says that it has been held to ransom by hotel and apartment owners who have increased rates by as much as 35 per cent. In some cases families will have to pay an additional £120 for their summer holiday in the Balearics next year - or go elsewhere, which is gradually becoming the case. While the Balearics has been the loser this year, with its fortunes unlikely to change next year according to Keith Betton, Greece has been the winner. The travel industry media has been awash with headlines like “Rip off Spain” topping articles about the Balearic accommodation price hikes. Some hoteliers are being accused of “cashing in on years of continual growth and the new hotel building legislation” and Hugh Morgan complained during the World Travel Market, that on one occasion, faced with a 35 per cent increase which JMC said was unacceptable, he and his team were given the option of “take it or leave it, which is not a good way of doing business.” On average, Balearic holiday prices are up by between 25 and 35 per cent for 2001 and the market response has been poor. Sales for 2001 have slumped by 25 percent and Hugh Morgan said that tour operators are having to “pay through the nose” when looking for bed spaces. One of the biggest problems is in Minorca where prices have gone “through the roof.”

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