Staff reporter

THE controversial “Tourist Tax”, or eco-tax, will be top of the agenda next Tuesday when Balearic leader Jaume Matas meets up with senior figures from hotel groups and unions. These representatives of the tourist sector will debate the repeal of this unpopular tax with Matas, along with other key issues such as what image of the Islands is currently held by client markets and how the seasonal nature of the tourist industry should be viewed and managed. The Balearic government spokesman, Joan Flaquer yesterday announced the “symposium”, the principal aim of which will be to “become acquainted with” the professional viewpoint of the tourist sector. It is hoped that a spirit of “dialogue and consensus” will pervade at the meeting, a spirit that the new Balearic government wishes to make its hallmark “right from the beginning” of its term of office. The agenda for the meeting will be tabled by Jaume Matas but he is “open” to discussing other issues which can be raised by those attending.
Flaquer was mindful of the “commitment” to repealing the Tourist tax that his party, the Partido Popular, had made at the last elections.
The government, however, wanted the widest consensus possible before setting the wheels in motion for its cessation.
The Balearic hotel sector and tourist industry as a whole, both at home and overseas, has been deeply opposed to the tourist tax which was introduced in May last year. The new Balearic government's announcement that it wants to do away with the tax has been welcomed by leading tour operators and asssociations, such as the Association of British Travel Agents and IFTO, the International Federation of Tour Operators, both advised the previous government against introducing such a levy. Whatever the future of the tourist tax, which has been blamed for the tourism slump, the future of the Balearic environment is assured, with the government this week giving assurances that the same amount of money, if not more, will be spent on the protection and management of the environment.