“The British market forecast for summer 2003 puts them as the undisputed market leader,” the Balearic Ministry for Tourism declared yesterday on receiving the latest report on holiday sales in Britain carried out by market research company TravelTrack, ACNielsen. The Balearic Centre for Tourism technology and Investigation said last night that UK summer holiday sales (May to September) are up 25 per cent on last year with Minorca also up by 17 per cent and Ibiza 25 per cent. Holiday sales in Britain are currently on par with October 1999 and Britain's interest in Greece is down on last year. The centre admitted that how the summer finally pans out very much depends on the pending conflict in Iraq and the euro's continuing gain in strength, however, the Balearics can expect to see more British holidaymakers than last year, whatever happens. According to the ACNielsen study, which has looked at British holiday booking trends for this year, the only losers are France, with summer bookings down by four per cent, Rhodes in Greece, down 12 per cent, the Bahamas -15 per cent and St Lucia -23 per cent. With regards to the Balearics, so far, 599'791 Britons have booked a summer holiday in the Balearics, 24 per cent more than the 485'031 who had booked by this stage last year; 340'672 coming to Majorca, 147'913 going to Ibiza, 110'894 off to Minorca and 314 to Formentera. Furthermore, the figures are based on holiday sales and do not include independent travellers. Other big winners for this summer are the Canaries, 24 per cent up on last summer, and holiday sales to the Spanish Costas are up between five and 40 per cent. Most of the Balearics' main competitors however have also seen increasing demand: summer holidays sales to Croatia are already up 68 per cent, Bulgaria 81 per cent, Morocco 189 per cent, Turkey 56 per cent, Egypt 48 per cent and Tunisia 44 per cent, athough the last four destinations may see demand fall dramatically if there is a war in Iraq. The Balearics should not suffer too much as the government says it is a “safe” destination.

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