Staff Reporter
LEADING figures in the hotel chains of Sol Melia, Iberostar and Barceló called on central and regional government yesterday to make further investment in tourism promotion.

The hoteliers claim extra funding for marketing campaigns needs to go directly to the potential tourist destinations, and to a more concerted effort to track down individuals and organisations which practice illegal, or unregistered tourism in the Balearics. Unregistered “holiday homes” for rent increased by 1400 percent during the nineties.

On the occasion of “New Economy Forum”, the vice-president of Sol Melia, Sebastián Escarrer, called on the regional government to “attack” the “growing phenomenon” of residential tourism, with stricter controls, more fines and the establishment of some form of limitation to stop its unchecked growth. Hoteliers fear the illegal practice will otherwise undermine conventional tourism in the Balearics.

People on the Islands who rent out their homes to visitors for holiday periods without registering as a business, are not only avoiding tax, claim the hoteliers, but they are also avoiding any government checks on standards of property which means the client is not protected in terms of value for money.

The co-chairman of the Barceló group, Simon Pedro Barceló, believed that the future of tourism in the Balearics will involve society as a whole. “If the Islands are to remain an attractive holiday destination” he urged, “there should be flexible trading hours in Palma, a Conference and Congress centre to give a boost to business tourism, more golf courses and more yacht clubs without unrealistically high taxes for mooring”. “With tour operators currently in a weak position” signalled Barceló, the Balearics needs to be competitive by opting for all-year-round tourism which will provide permanent quality jobs; to diversify in what to offer visitors over and above traditional “sea and sand” holidays; and to appeal to markets all round the world.

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