Mark Tanzer, the chief executive of Abta, told the Bulletin yesterday that, despite Brexit, holiday bookings in the UK "are holding up pretty well". "We’ve been telling people that in the event of a no-deal scenario, flights will continue and tourists will not need visas. So we are confident that people booking holidays now will still be able to travel if that is the situation. But obviously, we’re having to plan for contingencies, especially with regards to cost, so the sooner we get some concrete answers the better."
On scrapping the tourist tax to ease the effects of Brexit, Tanzer said: "It’s a very price-competitive market this year, especially when people are looking at their budgets in euros; every euro counts. I can understand why certain destinations have tourist taxes and it can help to improve tourist infrastructure but one has to remember that people are free to go elsewhere on holiday."
On price, if the Balearics are in danger of pricing itself out of the market, especially in the face of growing competition, Tanzer added: "Spain and the Balearics are definitely readjusting and moving back to prices which we saw maybe three to four years ago. We are seeing a lot of people move towards destinations like Greece and Turkey because they are looking for that value, so there will be an adjustment."
On the overall problems the European travel industry at large appears to be suffering at the moment Tanzer explained: "There is a lot of aircraft capacity in the short-haul market. Prices are very keen but there are very high oil prices, so the airlines are feeling the squeeze. At the same time, hotel prices are coming down, so the overall pricing for tour operators is lower. While I don’t think Brexit is having a huge impact, there is no doubt that some people are holding off to see what’s going to happen.
"The early bookings have been challenging for some of the tour operators, but the Balearics are, as always, going to have another good year with the British. As with Spain, there is a very good product, there are great services, good all-inclusive, so the Balearics will continue to be very strong and be the top destination."