Bank Holiday boom for Balearics

The promise of an extra UK bank holiday this spring is bringing the European tourism industry back to life, travel agent Thomas Cook reports. The firm has already seen a 25 per cent increase in holiday bookings compared to the same period last year, with particular interest in Spain's Balearic Islands and Greece.

Despite taking a hit of up to £20 million from booking cancellations as a result of political unrest in Tunisia and Egypt, Thomas Cook reported that thanks to the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, there would still be plenty of Britons holidaying abroad come April. The extra bank holiday, combined with the existing Easter and May Day breaks in the UK calendar, would mean a potential 11-day break for workers if they took only three days' annual leave of their own. 

Thomas Cook has increased its capacity for the UK market from 200,000 to 300,000 in that month alone, and has seen a rise in predicted revenues of 7 percent for the first quarter of 2011 due to these strong spring bookings figures. Bargain airline Ryanair reported a massive 65 percent surge in bookings for the period so far. "People will still watch the wedding – but it will be on TV in a Spanish bar", said Thomas Cook CEO Manny Fontenla-Novoa.

The tourist boom is great news for Spain in particular, with a 30 per cent boost in enquiries for holidays to its Balearic Islands of Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. This should see rental demand increase and go some way towards kick-starting its ailing property industry. Greece also remained a popular destination for holidaymakers to seek out a post-recession bargain,with a 20 percent increase in sales, while Thomas Cook said it was confident its entire Egypt programme would also be back to normal by April.