Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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majority of bank forecasts indicate that the recession in Europe and the U.S. over its worst - hopefully - and this year had all the signs of being a good one for the Minorca holidays industry.

Tourism to the island has been down in the last couple of years, in common with most Mediterranean islands, as a direct result of the bank failures and subsequent recession that hit consumer spending on things like overseas holidays hard.
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But a turnaround was definitely on the cards with good early bookings, and a sense of optimism was in the air among the hotel owners and flight operators.

But then came along Eyjafjallajokull - or as it's become better known in Europe and the wider world, the Iceland volcano - which after erupting continuously for over a month caused an ash cloud that grounded planes, left holidaymakers stranded, and caused a lot of people to reconsider their Minorca holidays for this year.

The direct consequence has been that instead of booking a few months ahead many tourists have held off and are booking their Minorca holidays much closer to their intended arrival dates - leaving some tour operators and villa holiday companies with excess accommodation and reducing prices.

And airlines lost out big time as those based in the EU had to pay for accommodation for those passengers they couldn't fly home, even though insurers often got away with paying out. The airlines industry feel that as the governments stopped them flying, they should now pay their bills without some will run at a loss this year.

It's not just the hotels in Minorca that have been affected by the volcano among the Mediterranean islands where tourism forms an important part of the local economy, and is reliant on flights to bring the tourists in to their hotels and for their villa holidays for a week or two.

Malta for example saw a sharp decline in visitors in April and May, and local media have reported that the national flag carrier Air Malta could have lost over 3 million Euros in April alone as their planes were effectively grounded and flights to their important UK market halted altogether for some time.

Unlike Malta, Minorca doesn't have an airline to speak of that it can call her own, but Mahon Airport is well served with both low cost airlines and tour operators from both the UK and Germany have regular flights to Menorca at various times of the day, with scheduled flights available out of the holidays season.

But there is some good news around, despite the awful start to the year. While there were plenty of Menorca villa holidays available for June and July to be booked when looking for availability in early May, a month later a lot of them had gone by early June, showing that potential visitors were gaining confidence as the volcano quietened down.

And the price cuts that were showing are now back to something like their normal level. But for those thinking of taking a villa holiday in September when the weather is still normally good, there are some available for under UK 700 - it's quieter then with the schools back and if Minorca villa holidays are something to be considered it could be worth investigating further.

Despite the volcano the number of people taking holidays this year could be up on last years total and 2011 should be an improvement too.

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