THE Balearic tourism ministry wants to develop the general law on tourism, promoting the exchange of obsolete hotel places for new ones, reconverting hotels into urban housing and building up “an exchange of beds” to raise funds which will be used for improving resort areas. The only changes planned for the law, which came into force in March 1999, concern the regulation of holiday flats, to legalise the offer through a series of fiscal measures. One of the key aspects of the law which the government plans to develop to the maximum is converting hotels into flats.
This is seen as one way out for obsolete hotels and tourist flats blocks which can be converted into flats, with guidelines as to size governed by each municipality. The tourism department considers a minimum density of 90 square metres, which would prevent the flats being used for tourist accommodation.
Tourism chief Joan Flaquer said that the general law on tourism has not been fully developed so far, hence the government's interest, because it is the basis of the model which is favoured to improve competitiveness. Following inspections in August and September 2003, the tourism ministry has located 1'400 holiday flats in the Balearics, 1'000 of them in Majorca. “The purpose is to regulate this offer, and negotiations have opened with Owners and Business Associations,” a spokesman said. He added that a tourist and a fiscal register would be opened, in which all holiday flats would be inscribed and would have to comply with basic requisites - single family homes, isolated and with a maximum of four or five rooms. This will be the only modification to the law, the spokesman said. The law originally included an “exchange” or “bank” of hotel beds, although this has not been developed since the law came into force. The purpose was to achieve finance for modernising hotels. Since 1999, the ministry has approved 21 reconversion projects in Majorca under which 32 hotels with 2'801 beds have closed. Just over 600 of these beds have remained unused, and they will form the “bank of beds” which the government wants to manage. They can be sold by the government to potential investors who want to develop a tourist project in the island. Fifteen of the 21 reconversion projects were to convert the hotels into flats or pensioners' homes.
The hoteliers have welcomed the proposals, but point out that conversions have to be negotiated with the Council of Majorca because of limitations introduced in that body's Territorial Plan.