Menorca's hotels and holiday apartments were full to 93.5% of their capacity in August, an improvement of 4.8% on last year's figures and 2% higher than the most optimistic forecasts for this summer. The monthly survey conducted by ASHOME shows that today's tourist is looking for quality accommodation: 5-star hotels recording an occupancy rate of 95.1%; 4-star establishments 97%; 3-stars 95.9%; while apartments were 91.5% full. The districts of Ciutadella, Ferreries, Es Migjorn Gran and Alaior had the best results with tourist accommodation 95.6% booked whilst Es Mercadal, Maó, Es Castell and Sant Lluís averaged 88.8%.

With a total of 106,651 tourists, the August figures are the highest for three years, although it remains to be seen at the end of the season whether the increased numbers equate to increased income.

By nationality, 39.2% of August's visitors were Spanish (1% more than in 2009); almost 9% German (an increase of 3%), 13.5% Italian and 30.6% British (a 3% drop on last year and the only market to show a decline).

The average length of holiday enjoyed by tourists also increased, from last year's 6.05 days to 6.96 days this August.

The president of the Menorcan Hoteliers' Association, Joan Melis attributes the improved figures to agreements signed with the principal tour operators, the hoteliers' efforts to maintain prices, the stronger pound sterling, the Estrella Damm publicity and "the crisis" which has encouraged tourists to opt for shorter haul holidays.

Marc Pons, the President of the Island Council of Menorca, concurs with Joan Melis in that the agreements with holiday companies and the Estrella Damm beer adverts have helped to achieve August's good results and points out that not only have there been improvements in tourist numbers and length of holidays but also in the amount spent by holidaymakers - 111 euros per day compared to a national average of 90 euros.

He also highlighted the impact made by the new air routes opened up with Paris and Warsaw, which bring the number of direct flights to European cities to 32, the creation of the Island Council's tourist web site,, and the willingness of the private sector and general public to react in times of crisis.

ASHOME offers members legal assistance

The Menorcan Hoteliers' Association estimates that Thomas Cook's announced 5% cut on contract prices paid to hotels will cost the sector around 20% of its profits. The tour operator has stated that this deduction will be applied worldwide to all contracts and invoices pending, plus those issued up to 30th October, in order to offset their losses caused by the volcanic ash cloud earlier in the year. According to the President of ASHOME, Joan Melis, the measure will mainly affect the months of August and September which account for 60% of the Menorcan tourist sector's income.

Although Melis states that it is up to individual hotels whether or not they come to an agreement with the tour operator, ASHOME will offer legal advice and help to any of its members that feel that Thomas Cook is abusing its dominant position. The association is not ruling out the possibility of legal action if the tour operator persists in its demand.