Derek Moore, chairman, Association of Independet Tour Operators (AITO)
Editor's note: This column was written before ETA launched three further attacks on August 10 2009. These latest attacks caused no deaths or injuries, amd FCO advice is unchanged.
Yesterday a friend asked where they should go for their holiday instead of Spain. Typically they go to Spain; sometimes to the beaches; more often into the interior to browse cities or walk in the mountains.
"Why the change this year?" I asked.
"Well, it's the bombs," they said, referring to recent attacks in Burgos and Majorca. And that got me thinking.
Okay, undeniably there are countries today where the risk of terrorist action is something of a deterrent to the most intrepid holidaymaker.
None of us wants to spend our precious holiday time worrying whether something horrific might happen to us or those we love.
It's true that not many tourists go to Algeria since a local terrorist organisation announced some time ago that it was planning to actively target foreigners, and the beaches of Somalia are quiet of late. But Spain?
Are we now perhaps witnessing the start of a planned and prolonged campaign to disrupt the tourist industry in Spain? Is this the beginning of a determined effort to hit the Spanish government where it hurts by making tourists think twice about walking the streets of Spain?
Quite simply - no. Let's just stop and get things into perspective.
For quite a while now, ETA, the Basque terrorist organisation, has been quiet. So quiet, in fact, that many people had forgotten that ETA had an anniversary to mark - the 50th anniversary of the founding of its organisation.
ETA did not, therefore, announce the start of a campaign; it just set devices in such a way that the police were hit; tourists were not targeted.
What a shame, then, if my friends - and perhaps many other would-be visitors to Spain - miss out on the beaches, the walking in the mountains, the browsing around Moorish palaces, the buzz of Spain's cities and the peace of its mountains, all because of an isolated terrorist incident.
I would urge travel agents to reassure any clients who are wavering on visiting Spain that ETA's 50th anniversary has gone - now let's make sure the tourists keep coming.
It is time to put these attacks into context, and let Spain continue to offer us all so much choice for our holidays, as always.