THE Balearic minister for tourism, Joan Flaquer, yesterday denied that the Green Card will cost more money than it makes, insisting it will instead pay for environmental projects. The Green Card goes on sale on 15 April at a cost of ten euros. The discounts that the Green Card will offer tourists will cost the Foundation for Sustainable Development in the Balearic Islands absolutely nothing, said Flaquer. As a result, all the income made from selling the cards will be put towards developing environmental projects. The accusations that the Green Card will lose money were started by Socialist spokesman and former tourism chief Celestí Alomar, who considers that this new tourism project is a “fiasco”. The cost of offering discounted admission to many different touristic and cultural sites, is far above what the card actually costs; the card will cost 10 euros but will lose 1.20 euros, said Alomar But, Flaquer said that when tourists buy a card they will be paying for access to nature parks, for example, that in the past have always been free.
The card will offer the users free additional services, for example free entrance to centres with guided tours and discounted bicycle hiring services in parks. The President of the Majorcan Hotel Federation, Pere Cañellas, said yesterday that the success of the card will largely depend on the discounts that it offers to tourists. It is vital that tourists see that the card is worth their while to buy, he said.
The biggest difference between the card and the former controversial tourist tax, is that the card is voluntary and can be bought by tourists and residents alike.He added that the Green Card had been introduced after talks with the tourist sector to win its backing, and will be operated through a Foundation in which private enterprise and the administration are represented, unlike the tourist tax, introduced by the previous coalition government, which led to a bitter clash between the Balearic government and the tourist sector as a whole. The card will be available to purchase in many places, such as hotels, travel agents, petrol stations etc., unlike the tourist tax which was only collected by the hoteliers, Cañellas said. In any case, the success of this “new and interesting project” will really depend on the effectiveness of the discounts that it offers, for example discounted tickets for museums, public transport or even renting sunbeds and sunshades on the beach. It will also depend on whether or not tourists perceive the discounts to be worth while.
Cañellas also took the opportunity to ask the Balearic government to launch a plan using “more aggressive” promotional campaigns both in the traditional markets and in emerging markets, adding that not enough is being done in this field.