The Spanish tourist board, Turespaña, said yesterday that holiday bookings in the country's two key source markets, Britain and Germany are starting to recover, but there is concern that British tour operators will not be able to meet demand. Turespaña's director general, Germán Porras, said yesterday that the last minute rush on holidays for the Balearics and Spanish mainland could be so great that there will not be enough holidays to go round. In the wake of September 11, British tour operators cut capacity between 18 and 20 per cent, some 1.5 million holidays were taken off the market, as part of a damage limitation exercise as holiday firms consolidated. “We are worried about whether the tour operators will be able to cope with a surge of last minute bookings,” he said. Porras warned that exactly the same thing happened in Canada after September 11. Tour operators cut capacity to the Caribbean, but by the end of last year as the market started to return to normal, demand was so high, there were not enough holidays. Porras spent last week discussing the situation with the UK's leading operators, asking them how they plan to respond to a late booking surge. He said that over the past two to three weeks both the British and German family markets, the foundations of the Balearic tourist industry and the economy, have shown signs of a recovery. However, last week, package holiday prices fell again in the UK and one week, half board package holidays in Majorca are still available at around £150 per person and in Minorca, private villas are being rented out at half price. Turespaña has recently launched a 7.1 million euro overseas promotional campaign in association with the Balearics, Andalucía, the Canarias, Cataluña, Madrid and Valencia. Porras said that the campaign is starting to pay dividends. Tour operators in Majorca are confident that July and August will be busy, once the World Cup and the Jubilee are out of the way. One resort manager said yesterday “once the football's over, it will be business as usual and people will start wanting to get away on holiday to the sun.”

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