Balearic Minister for Tourism, Celestí Alomar.

The olive branch offered by the International Federation of Tour Operators (IFTO) in order to resolve the tourist tax crisis and in turn secure the levy's postponement until November, yesterday snapped like a twig under the weight of legal problems. Even the Balearic government had quietly billed to local news editors yesterday's meeting as the final round of talks with IFTO over the tax. But last night, although the true reasons for the break down in the talks remained cloudy, what was crystal clear, according to Tourism Minister Celesti Alomar, was that the tax will come into force on May 1. He blamed the break down in talks on “judicial reasons” which prevented the Balearic government and IFTO signing an accord. IFTO chairman Martin Brackenbury was in Palma yesterday for the three hours talks, but returned to London yesterday afternoon. Neither he nor the Balearic President Francesc Antich made any comment about the failed talks. IFTO Secretary General, Alan Flook, told the Bulletin last night that IFTO could not sign up to the Balearic government's demands. The clause stating that all tour operators must include the tax in their winter brochures was the main stumbling block. Flook said “we're a regulatory body, we can't start telling tour operators what they can and can not do, we neither have the power nor is it IFTO's mandate.” Flook added that IFTO has never signed such an accord before. However, Flook said that ITFO's impression is that the tax will be delayed, “although this is proving to be a long drawn out affair. “I've been involved with hundreds of these tourist tax situations and in most case, because of the implications, the tax is delayed,” he said. “But we'll carry on negotiating.” Alomar would not expand and go into details, leaving plenty of room for speculation as to what really went wrong. Alomar suggested however that this is not the end of the matter and the government and IFTO will continue negotiating and searching for ways of making the tax's application as easy as possible. Alomar repeated that he has never doubted the May 1 deadline for the highly controversial tourist tax, only to contradict himself by saying that the postponement of the tax is still negotiable. Alomar said that the government is still open to suggestions. The comment was particularly directed at the hoteliers who were not represented at yesterday's meeting.