Palma airport is expected to produce the passenger figures for April on Friday and the number will indicate a continual decline in tourists. Compared to April last year, the figures will show a drop of 20 per cent and during the first four months of the year, total passenger figures are down 10 per cent. On the whole, European airline figures are still struggling to recover from the fall out from September 11, but a number of other factors in the Balearics have not helped boost winter passenger traffic. Easter falling earlier failed to provide the usual pre-summer boost to airport figures and with a record number of hotels closed over the winter, many resorts were deserted. Over the past few days the Balearic hotel sector has started to open for business - the summer season officially got underway on Wednesday. However, sources for the hotel sector said yesterday that at the moment, between 85 and 90 per cent of Balearic hotels are open, one of the lowest percentages in recent years. Along the Playa de Palma, for example, hotel occupancy is riding at 63 per cent and in the north of the hotel, very few hotels have reported occupancy over 50 per cent. As far as the hotel sector is concerned, May has been a “bad” month commercially. It is the German market which is still haunting the Balearic tourism industry, down 20 per cent: not a great start to the summer season. The domestic market, outraged over the tourist tax, is down 10 per cent, and the only saving grace for the Balearic tourist industry is that the British market is performing better than expected. As far as Miguel Vicenç, director of the Majorcan Tourist Board, is concerned, “May is going to be a write off.” But according to Vicenç, the present outlook for June is not much better, echoing fears that have already been aired by leading UK tour operators which have said that unless holiday sales start moving for June, July and August they are going to have to start slashing prices which could lead to a price war which does not benefit any sectors of the tourist industry. There are hopes that the French and Italian markets will improve, but there are concerns that Andalucia is taking a bite of out the Balearic market with record tourism levels and hotel occupancy around the 70 per cent mark.

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