Palma.— The latter part of August has seen regional tourist businesses fully active with industry representatives claiming yesterday that not since 2007 have tourists come in such numbers, nor has trade been so good.

Car and yacht hire companies, hoteliers, owners of bars, cafés and restaurants and holiday home proprietors all agree that this month has been “an historic August.” Such is the demand that three star hotels are charging 300 euros for rooms this weekend, a situation which would have been quite unthinkable at the start of the season.

But charges of between 136 and 300 euros for rooms in 3 and 4 star hotels is momentary rather than the rule. These elevated prices are applied at weekends and for the odd room for which the management haven't been able to secure reservations or in the event of a cancellation. “Fully booked” Hotel management across all the Balearic Islands are describing bookings as exceptional and that business in August has exceeded all forecasts.
On a less positive note, hoteliers associations have pointed out that the high number of passengers flying in to the airports on all the islands (an 11 percent more than the same time last year) “shows that the illegal holiday home offer has been working at full capacity this summer, and especially this month.” One association spokesman said that “it just isn't feasible” that all the visitors flying in to Balearic airports are staying at hotels.” He said it was clear that both a legal and illegal holiday home industry was responsible for the significant upturn in arrivals. The hotel association has long called for local authorities, both at a municipal and regional government level, to control those holiday home owners who are avoiding taxes and inspections by industry authorities. It will ensure clients are getting a minimal level of service, the association says.

Unfair competition “It works both ways,” said the spokesman. “The illegal holiday home trade is unfair to those of us who have to abide by existing legislation and pay taxes to the government, and to those visitors who pay to stay in a property that does not furnish them with basic requirements.” There are apparently around 5'000 holiday homes rented out in the Balearics every year. Of this total, only about 2'000 have been registered with local authorities since 2006 and comply with legislation laid down by the General Tourism Law. The remainder reportedly rent out under general urban leasing laws which don't cover holiday requirements.

The overall assessment of how the tourist season has developed, say industry watchdogs, will depend on how the Balearics fares with bookings for September. Meanwhile, hotels are bursting at the seams because prices were dropped this year by between 20 and 25 percent, but fixed costs have continued to rise.

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