Flood Hit Brits Head For Spanish Sun

By: Roger Munns

From a million unsold holidays just a few weeks ago, travel agents in the UK have seen a sharp turnaround in their summer season fortunes, as Britons fed up with weeks of rain and the heaviest flooding in living memory ditch home holidays in favour of an overseas trip.

The top destination is Spain, with the Balearic islands of Menorca, and in particular Majorca, heading the list. The Spanish mainland's Costa Blanca and Portugal's Algarve are also popular choices for families wishing to get away from it all.

With a rush for the sun, low prices and good deals are becoming hard to come by, and many holidays are selling at full price, with some companies even being able to increase their original prices with demand so high.

The general advice seems to be to get a low price, holidaymakers need to be at a travel agents as soon as they open as there are so few about, or to regularly check internet sites for holiday companies like Thomas Cook and Thomson Holidays in the hope that they might bag a bargain.

'It's good news for the travel industry', commented one Menorca travel guide, 'just a few weeks ago it looked like there would be plenty of availability and prices would have to be slashed to lure people into a summer holiday abroad. But now with higher prices and strong demand hotels and the holiday industry in general can look forward to an unexpectedly good year.'

A spokesman for ABTA, the association of British travel agents, commented that April was so warm that everyone expected summer to be a scorcher and a lot of people decided not to go abroad. Now they are all rushing to book.

The floods affecting large parts of England have claimed four lives, and left a hundred thousand homes without water for two weeks in parts of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Insurance companies have warned that the floods will cost small businesses millions, and insurers are expecting tens of millions in claims from homeowners. The British government has offered emergency aid to the worst affected areas to help with the cost of the clear-up. Yorkshire in the north of England saw some of the heaviest flooding, with thousands of homes left without power and three people dying.

The surge in holiday bookings comes at a particularly opportune time for the three Balearic islands of Menorca, Majorca and Ibiza, who were doing better than many holiday areas before the British floods.

Clubbers from around Europe, and especially from the UK, descend upon Ibiza in the summer months for a week - and often two - of non stop partying.

Ibiza runs second only to the UK's main cities of London, Manchester and Liverpool in terms of popularity for clubbers, and some of the Ibiza clubs are as well known as any in the UK.

The three Balearic Islands of Menorca, Majorca and Ibiza might be close to each other, but they are all different in character and the type of tourist they typically attract.

A surprise is that the amount of time spent on Ibiza by each tourist is longer than on Menorca and Majorca - destroying the myth that Ibiza is primarily for long weekends or short trips for a couple of nights in the club.

Recent findings by the Balearics Tourist Authority show that after Ibiza, Menorca visitors stay on average for 11 days, with Majorca just behind. And the same pattern emerges for spending per day, with Ibiza top, Majorca second, and Menorca last.

The amount spent by Ibiza tourists averaged 94 Euros a day - a huge contribution to the island's economy, looked on enviously by Majorca and Menorca.

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