The great Easter get-away is underway... but passenger figures are down by 8%.

Germany is said to furious over the Balearic parliament's approval of the tourist tax and passenger traffic at Palma airport this Easter is down 8.3 per this an omen of things to come. The anger over the tourist tax is not only being felt in Germany, where Germans believe that Majorcans are just after even more of their money, and in Britain where the tax has been slammed as a “poll tax,” but also in the independent private hotel sector in Majorca. The owners of the family run Hotel Bellver in Can Pastilla, Antoni Mayol, said yesterday: “the tourist tax is not a tax, it is a fine for all the small hotels.” The hotel sector as a whole fears the tax will turn tourists away, but never mind the tax, if the readers of Germany's top selling newspaper Bild listen to the paper's editorial line, tourists will not be coming anyway. “Germany's favourite island no longer wants its usual visitors,” the newspaper's headline ran. Bild also ran the story with a picture of President of the Council of Majorca, Maria Antonia Munar, with the caption “the woman who ordered the partial demolition of Boris Becker's house on the island.” Neither the German nor the British, never mind the Balearic hotel sector, travel industry and tourist boards could have been more explicit in their opposition to the tax over the past year and the voice of the private hotelier, never mind the masses, appears to have been clearly ignored. Antoni Mayol, whose hotel is one of the classic establishment in Can Pastilla, fears the tourist tax will cost him and his family money. “For us it means that we will have to pay some 3'4 million pesetas a year for the 20'000 bed nights we cater for. The problem is that we still have yet to establish how the tax is to be collected, but because our hotel is run as a family business, we are going to have problem charging certain clients and not all of them are going to understand why they have to pay the tax,” he said. He added “we may have to seek help in paying the tax ourselves.” “As it, is a hotel already pays a substantial amount of taxes to cover environmental and social costs. In fact we pay 35 per cent more than a residential building or secondary home of the same size,” he said. It was Can Pastilla and the Playa de Palma which had a very slow start to last season and some of the hotel have focused their promotional campaigns this year on residential or mainland tourists in order to compensate for an uncertain foreign market. Hotel occupation across the island is expected to balance out at around 80 per cent this Easter weekend, but the 8.3 per cent drop in passenger traffic at the airport will take its toll on certain areas - an 8.3 per cent decrease in passengers represents 198'654 less people, 18.167 less that Easter last year


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