The QE2 will be sailing into Palma this morning with 1'700 passengers on board.

The Balearic government intends to start getting serious about the introduction of the controversial tourist tax next week with a series of meetings with various institutions and organisations across the region due to get under way on Monday. But the government does not appear to be breaking any ground in the bid to convince opponents to the tax that its introduction will be positive and favourable. Over the past week the hoteliers have expressed their unwillingness to have any involvement with the tax and yesterday the director general of Civil Aviation in Spain, Enrique Sanmartí, said that he has serious doubts that the tourist tax will be compatible with a new levy being introduced by the European Union to reduce noise pollution caused by airplanes. The airports in the Balearics have made it blatantly clear that collecting the tax on arrival in the terminals is not a viable proposal and most airlines are against adding the tax to the cost of air tickets. Sanmarti said yesterday that including the tourist tax in air tariffs is “very complicated” idea. The European Union is already studying the introduction of an environmental tax on top of the existing airport taxes, which have recently increased in the United Kingdom, and there will have to be a unanimous agreement between all of the EU member states if the environmental tax is to go ahead. Nevertheless, Sanmarti would not rule out that the tourist tax eventually will be added on to air tickets. But shouts of “discrimination” are expected to be repeated next week on the grounds that if all European Union member states are going to start charging the environmental tax, in order to reduce noise levels and air contamination at airports, tourists coming to the Balearics will be then forced to pay a second green tax - the tourist tax - with which the Balearic government intends to raise money to protect the environment. The director general for Tourism in Spain, Juan José Güemes, has also expressed his deep concerns over the tourist tax.


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