In a tit-for-tat move against Balearic hoteliers for refusing to accept their seats on the newly formed Tourism Advisory Board, responsible for deciding how the tourist tax funds are going to be spent, the Balearic government yesterday decided that environmental projects will have priority over resort improvements. The controversial tourist tax is still being hotly contested by the hotel sector but will be enforced from May 1 and money raised is due to be spent on environmental protection and management, as well as holiday resort renovations and improvements. As a result of the hoteliers' continual opposition to the tax and refusal to communicate with the government, local ministers sought their revenge last night. Far left members of the coalition government agreed that, in view of the Constitutional Tribunal in Madrid lifting its suspension on the tax on the grounds that money raised will be spent on the environment, the hoteliers will have to be made to wait and not be given priority. The Tourism Advisory Board has been criticised by the hotel sector for lacking any real tourism experience despite its 34 members. However, it is having to come up with some good and impressive initial projects, as required by Tourism Minister Celesti Alomar. The government wants to spend the money on environmental projects which tourists will be able to enjoy. It has also come to light during the course of this week that a sizeable part of the funds raised each year will go to the agricultural sector, representatives of which also sit on the board. The new tax is expected to raise 10'000 million pesetas per year, but the local government will advance money for the initial projects so that they can be started as soon as possible in order to create a good impression. All government departments interested in securing tourist tax funding for projects, will be able to submit their proposals from May onwards. Today, the government could finally decide on how the tax will be collected from hoteliers. The two options are every four months or once every year but hoteliers have already been told that they will have to provide an audit every four months. With regards to hotel and apartment clients, to whom the tax will apply, the levy will be added on to the final bill when checking out.


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