The tourist tax is going to be used to create a Balearics fit for the 21st century, according to the Balearic government. Yesterday the first 14 tourist tax-funded projects were unveiled by the government. Work on many of them will start immediately but over the next ten years around 30'000 million pesetas of tourist tax money is to be spent on a new Balearic model for quality living and tourism. Balearic leader Francesc Antich, accompanied by the minister for tourism Celesti Alomar, said that the first 14 projects are an important step forward and the first stage of a new model for tourism which the whole world will refer to. Everybody in the Balearics will benefit, therefore it is vital that all, the projects go ahead, he said. The 14 projects will cost 65 million euros, just under half of the total money which will be raised by the tax over the next three years. Antich said that the government aims to raise 50 million euros (30 million pesetas) a year from the tax. Alomar said that while yesterday marked the end of two years of hard work on one of the government's key policies, it also signalled the start of a new chapter for the Balearics. The introduction of the tourist tax has paved the way for the transformation of the region's saturated tourist industry into a sustainable one. An international team has been involved in designing the first 14 projects which are all short to mid-term plans and should be completed by the year 2004. Each of the islands will receive tourist tax funding for projects, with the sum proportional to the number of tourists. Sixty-five per cent of the money will be ploughed back into Majorca, 15 per cent will go to Minorca and 20 per cent will be invested in Ibiza and Formentera. These initial projects have been based on the wishes of the public, put forward to the government and the Tourist Tax Technical Board by the various local councils. But in the future, Alomar said that he wants to throw further projects open to public debate and involve the whole of society in designing its own future model for living. The government wants to get rid of blots on the landscape and eyesores in the tourist resorts, improve the protection of natural spaces, create more green belt areas while buying properties which are important parts of the region's cultural heritage so they can eventually be tuned back over to the use of the general public. Money is to be spent on new historical, cultural, architectural and agricultural information centres, cultural tours and museums while developing new tourism products such as theme parks. Funding will also be channelled into a new effort to protect and preserve natural resources while further promoting the use of public transport and creating a new non-motorised Balearic road plan for cyclists.
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