I was amazed to read last week in the Daily Bulletin of the Balearic Government's plans for an auto tax on self-drive rentals.
Has the local government already forgotten the damage it caused with the ill-founded ecotax on room nights? It not only failed to work, but drove away the family market who occupied the lower grade hotels and who now holiday in other parts of the world! The result was only too obvious last week with over 90 per cent of hotels, restaurants, bars and gift shops closed for the winter season. Many will be closed from now until May, 2006, affecting the livelihood of many thousand of other workers in the supply chain.
Who still comes to Majorca in the winter? Seniors and property owners - the very people renting a selfdrive on arrival at Palma Airport. These are the people that the local government is now targeting with their new autotax! If it is introduced, visitors will simply arrive at the airport and take a taxi to their accommodation. They will then hire a self-drive for three or four days out of seven and everyone will lose even more business.
Instead of raising taxes, the Balearic Government should be devising ways of persuading mass tourism to return to the islands. Golf, yachting, and supermodels will never bring life back to the holiday resorts. Their target should be the senior citizen market for the winter months. The only seniors groups to be seen around Majorca last week were from the mainland. Why have the local government totally ignored this market? They have failed to produce incentive programmes to encourage tour operators to target seniors groups.
Why is it the only groups of cyclists to be seen on Majorca in April and May come from Germany? Why is it walkers go to Malta, art classes are held in Cyprus, and country dance groups go to Tunisia? If the Balearic Government is so desperate for cash, let it introduce a departure tax payable at the airport and ferry. This would mean that everyone is being taxed equally, but the money should be seen to be spent on the development of tourism. Right now, virtually all of the supplemental flights from the UK to Palma have been cancelled, or switched to other destinations in Spain which welcome tourists. Malaga, Gerona, Barcelona and Tenerife, have all benefited at the expense of Palma Airport.
Robin Valentine, Grampian Tours. By E-mail.
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