By Humphrey Carter
THE majority of Balearic MP's yesterday voted in favour of the government's motion to scrap the controversial tourist tax.
Despite opposition from the left-wing MP's responsible for its introduction under the previous coalition government, the tax, which was introduced in May last year and has since cost hotel guests an average of 1.5 euros extra per day, is heading for extinction and today, the cabinet will meet to decide just how quickly the levy can be lifted. The decision, however, has to be made public in the Official State Bulletin first, but the tax is set to be history by the end of this month.
Balearic finance minister Lluís Ramis de Ayreflor, said that the tax had been a monumental mistake, especially being introduced just months after the tourist industry was rocked by the 11-S attacks. He went on to say that it was “unfair,” “discriminate” and caused a lot of damage to the Balearic tourist industry and repeated President Jaume Matas's words that the people of the Balearics have already paid for the tourist tax “in jobs.” Opposition MP's criticised the government for giving into pressure from overseas tour operators, the local hotel sector and central government.
Former vice-president, spokesperson for the PSM Majorcan Nationalist party, Pere Sampol, accused the governing Partido Popular of having deliberately caused public alarm by accusing the tourist tax of damaging the local economy. He also warned that scrapping the tourist tax will pave the way for “uncontrollable growth, more tourists and less revenue.” The PSOE Socialist party's Antoni Diéguez, confident of a return to power in the future, said that the tax is not dead “just sleeping” suggesting that a left wing Balearic government would reinstate the levy. Balearic environment group GOB also expressed its disappointment at yesterday's vote.
However, the PP is committed to protecting and preserving the environment, but via other financial means. The biggest problem with the tourist tax is that only some of the visitors to the Balearics had to pay the levy and the Partido Popular, hoteliers, the tourist industry and tour operators, have maintained all along that the tourist tax was not the means to an end everybody favours, the protection of the environment.


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