The outlook for Minorca's tourist industry this year is, at the moment, looking rather bleak.Bookings with the British tour operator JMC, for example, which last year carried 160'000 British holidaymakers to Minorca, are apparently down 30 per cent, despite up to 50 per cent having been knocked off some holidays. However, the Minorcan hotel sector may only have itself to blame. JMC were furious with hotel and apartment owners who were trying to increase the seasonal accommodation rates by as much as 30 per cent this year. JMC slammed the Minorcan business attitude as “daylight” robbery earlier this year and warned that unless the culprits improved their business manner and reduced their price hikes, they would go elsewhere. But while Minorca, like Majorca, is failing to prove a big attraction in Britain this year, nor is it attracting much attention in Germany. Last April, the island's tourist industry had to open the doors early in order to meet massive pre-season demand - but this year the industry can have a lie in until Easter. Germany's two leading operators, Neckermann and TUI, have announced that they intend to delay the start of their Minorca programme because of a lack of tourists. They had planned to kick off the season during the second week of April, now the start date has been put back to the end of the month. Although it is only a question of two weeks, it has dealt a heavy blow to Minorca's efforts to decentralise the industry and promote off season tourism. It appears that the early birds last year were met by hotel complexes caked in rubble from on-going construction work and returned to Germany dis-satisfied. TUI had been due to launch a winter tourism programme, in conjunction with the Insular Council of Minorca, the day before yesterday, but that has been postponed. But the biggest concern is the drop in the British market and tourism experts in Minorca have admitted that some hoteliers are going to have to renegotiate contracts if they want to see some British, or any, clients this year. The long range market forecast points to a two per cent drop in German bookings and only a two per cent increase in the British market. The big rise, 30 per cent, will be in the domestic market.

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