31/07/2009

NI Holidaymakers Return To Majorca

British and Irish tourists are defying yesterday's deadly Majorca bomb attack and jetting to the sunshine island today to begin their holidays.

After the double murder of two Spanish police officers who were killed in a horror car bomb blast in the Palmanova beach resort, the return today of inbound tourists from the UK will be seen as a fillip to the recession-hit Spanish tourist industry.

It will also be seen as a snub to the terrorists bent on inflicting both murderous and economic harm on Spain.

Typical of this approach, holidaymakers planning to fly out to Majorca from Northern Ireland are being told "they should not worry unduly".

Especially after three decades of local terrorism during the Ulster Troubles, people are expected to ignore the bombing and get on with their holiday.

Doreen McKenzie, Northern Ireland spokeswoman for the Association of British Travel Agents, told the Belfast News Letter last night there had been minimal disruption to travellers from NI, despite a delayed flight coming out of Belfast International Airport yesterday.

Ms McKenzie said people travelling out of Belfast International Airport yesterday were only delayed for about an hour-and-a-half.

She estimates that between one and two thousand Ulster holidaymakers would probably be on the island at present.

"If this bomb in Majorca turns out to be a one-off it should not be a big worry for travellers."
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Spanish authorities blamed yesterday's deadly bomb attack on the Basque separatist group Eta and said that the explosion in Palmanova represents the first fatal bomb attack in the Balearic Islands.

It came just a day after a massive car bomb in the northern Spanish city of Burgos injured more than 60 people.

Two police officers, identified as Carlos Saenz de Tejada Garcia and Diego Salva Lesaun, both in their 20s, were killed in the blast. A second unexploded device was later found near the explosion site and was defused.

However, after massive disruption yesterday afternoon - when the island was effectively 'locked down' - all the British holidaymakers stranded at the island's Palma airport were being allowed to fly home.

Flights out of the airport in the capital Palma were suspended for several hours and those flying to the island from the UK also faced delays.

Some flights inbound to the Spanish island had been forced to turn back to Gatwick Airport while others were diverted elsewhere in Spain.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero described the killings as "vile" and paid tribute to the Civil Guards and said the killers would be caught.

Eta has been held responsible for more than 820 deaths during its decades-long campaign for an independent homeland in Spain's Basque region.

The bombs came ahead of the 50th anniversary of Eta's founding, today, (Friday).

Last August, a series of bomb attacks in the Costa del Sol's Benalmadena area caused minor damage, and no injuries.

See: Vigilance Urged As Costa Bombed Again

(BMcC/KMcA)

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