A total of 162 German children from Saxonia-Anhalt and Saxonia, devastated by flooding last summer, arrived in Majorca yesterday for a week's holiday, courtesy of the Balearic government and the Majorcan tourist sector. The children, aged between eight and 13, were welcomed at the airport by Balearic leader Francesc Antich and the German Consul. The education minister of Saxonia saw the children off at Dresden, and they were accompanied on board the plane by Balearic tourism minister Celesti Alomar, and Josep Moll, head of the Balearic government's office in Berlin. By the end of the month, 480 children, accompanied by their teachers, will have spent a holiday on the island, in an effort to help them recover from their ordeal in August, when many of them lost their homes in the flooding. As the group got off the plane, they were greeted by local schoolchildren who welcomed them with bags of presents. Antich made a brief speech, in which he said that he hoped they would have “a wonderful time.” One of the teachers accompanying the children compared the welcome to that of the homecoming of a champion soccer team. Local hotels are providing free accommodation, while the Balearic travel agents' association has prepared a programme of visits to places such as Bellver Castle, Marineland and Naturapark. The German Ambassador to Spain, Joachim Bitterlich, is due to travel to Palma at the end of the month to thank the Balearic government for this gesture. Germany, along with Britain, is one of the chief markets for Balearic tourism.

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