The Balearics is the second most popular destination in Spain for British holidaymakers. 29 per cent of UK holidaymakers told a Spanish tourist board survey that their favourite Spanish destination is the Balearics, only the Canaries proved more popular by just one per cent. The figures were released yesterday by Spanish Secretary General for Tourism, Juan Jose Guemes, during his address at the opening of the STEPS trade fair in London, an exclusively Spanish affair with the focus this year being on the Costa del Sol. Last year it was Ibiza which was the star attraction at STEPS' first event. The survey was carried out by the Spanish tourist office in London, eager to establish what effects September 11 has had on the market. During the first trimester of this year, the British holiday market to Spain has continued to grow: hence the industry is mystified over the decline in bookings to the Balearics. 2.1 million Britons visited Spain during the first three months of the year, five per cent more than during the same period last year, when a record 14 million Britons holidayed in Spain. Guemes has made his opinion of the tourist tax clear, but by contrast he believes that the euro will make it easier for British holidaymakers to compare prices as its value its much nearer to the Pound than the peseta was. Guemes said that STEPS is an important part of Spain's campaign to promote the country's alternative tourist industry and “project a different impression of holidaying in Spain,” he said. He said that at the larger travel fairs, it is very difficult to promote new aspects of the industry such as agro tourism and the country's growing number of theme parks. With regards to September 11, Guemes admits that the consequences have taken their toll on the global tourist industry, some having been harder hit than others, but the Secretary General said that Spain has managed to escape relatively unscathed “principally thanks to the loyalty of the British market.

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