The Balearic leader Francesc Antich used his key-note speech to the local parliament yesterday to underline the virtues of the tourist tax and claim that the levy was needed to enhance the Balearics and protect the environment. The tourist tax will be a weapon to improve our product. It will also serve to give the holidaymaker a sense of solidarity with local residents because they are paying a small charge to protect the Balearics. To improve our tourist resorts, protect the environment and build a better Balearics we need revenue. This funding cannot come from the already over-burdened tax-payer here so we must find a new way, he told Balearic MPs yesterday. The tourist tax, set to be introduced in time for next summer, involves holidaymakers paying a small levy. But only those holidaymakers staying in hotels and holiday apartments will pay. Critics of the tax say that 40 percent of holidaymakers will escape the tax net. Antich's speech yesterday also underlined the fact that the tourist tax was their star policy. We already know that the majority of Balearics residents support the introduction of the tax, he said. This may be true but even in a Balearic government controlled survey only 55 percent of people said that they supported the levy. Hoteliers and the Partido Popular, who are in opposition, have already voiced their concerns at the tax. Hoteliers say that the Balearics will loose their competitive edge. But according to Antich the tourist tax will help create a more stable tourist industry which is not so cost driven. Tour operators disagree. Antich went on to congratulate himself on the performance of the economy which is growing at a much faster rate than the national average. He also underlined the low level of unemployment but said that his government would be working hard to increase salaries and improve working conditions.