Tour firms report avalanche of complaints over prices

German tour operators are deeply concerned at the increase in the cost of living in the Balearics and they have held urgent talks with the Balearic ministry for tourism over the issue. The Director General for Tourism Promotion, Tiffany Blackman, was quoted as saying that German tour firms had received a large number of complaints from their clients regarding the increase in bar and restaurant prices. The summit meeting with representatives from the tour giants, TUI, Thomas Cook, REWE and ITS could be the first of many as Tiffany Blackman, said it had been a “positive experience, and “one they hoped to repeat.” The German operators also said that there was still much confusion over the tourist tax with some Germans wondering how the money was being spent. On a more positive note, Blackman, said that the Balearics was still the number one holiday destination to the Germans. However, the increase in prices especially in bars and restaurants is starting to cause major concern for the Balearic government. Inflation figures revealed a 20 percent rise in the cost of living over the last four years, far higher than the European national average. In the case of the Germans the increase in prices has been more notable as they now share the same currency with Spain. “A beer costs the same in Frankfurt as it does in Majorca,” one leading official with a major British tour operator said. Hoteliers fear that the islands could loose their competitive edge with other holiday destinations becoming cheaper. The saving grace for the tourist industry at the moment continues to be the pound sterling which remains high against the euro. Unlike their German counterparts British tourists have not felt the pinch as much. Hoteliers have pointed out that a package holiday to Majorca at the moment costs about the same as dinner for four in a Palma restaurant. “Something has to be done about inflation otherwise we will suffer,” said one prominent hotelier yesterday. The only bright point is that house prices are continuing to rise meaning that buying a home here is still considered a very good investment despite the fact that prices are much higher than those on the mainland. Last year the price of property in the Balearics rose by an estimated eight percent. However, the same story is repeated again with the British taking the lion's share of the market with little interest being shown by the Germans. “Germans are selling not buying at the moment,” said one leading estate agent yesterday.

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