Tourism industry experts are confident that by the time the summer season starts in the Balearics, tourist figures in both the British and, more importantly, the German markets, will balance out to match last season, despite the fact that Balearic bookings in both countries are well down. The directors of the Spanish tourism offices in Germany and Britain were in Palma for talks with the local Tourism Minister, Celesti Alomar, and the director of the ministry's promotional arm IBATUR, Tiffany Blackman. Combined, the British and German markets account for 70 per cent of the Balearics' global tourism industry, and there are fears that the Germans are going elsewhere and the British fancy a change in destination. The indications from Germany were described as “difficult to gauge” by head of the tourism office in Germany, Alvaro Blanco. He said that while last year nearly four milllion Germans visited the Balearics, the market is cloudy at the moment because the large travel companies and tour operators are making a major play for Turkey and Egypt. Market reports in Germany suggest a 20 per cent drop in Balearic bookings, but Blanco says that the market is stabilising, although “there is a conflict of interests between tour operators.” Blanco could not ignore the bad press Majorca received in Germany last year, but to the contrary said that on the whole, the majority of tourists are more than satisfied with the Majorcan package holiday and said that Majorca needs to put out some “good news.” Bookings are down in the United Kingdom, but not as much as in Germany. Director of the Spanish Tourism Office in London, Manuel Butler, revealed yesterday that bookings, at the end of last year, were down by 12 per cent in comparison to last summer. But he did point out that January has seen a recovery in the market. “If the same number of Britons, over 3.5 million, come to the Balearics again this year, it will be a great success,” he said. Butler also pointed out that the British tend to wait until the last minute, for which they could find themselves paying more for their holiday this year according to UK travel sources, adding that short breaks are becoming increasingly popular as are alternative accommodation to hotels. The market which is still proving slow to react is the national market. The Director of the Spanish Institute for Tourism, said that the Balearics only attracted 1.2 million Spanish mainland visitors last year, a mere 1.5 per cent of Spanish tourism. From experience, many Spaniards believe Majorca is too expensive.

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