ATTENDING the ABTA convention is Foreign Office minister and Labour MP Mr Bill Rammell, who yesterday spoke of plans for a voluntary donation scheme to be operated through a tourism foundation in Britain. “It's the tourism foundation which is part of the sustainable tourism initiative that we're launching, that we've worked on with the industry, with non governmental organisations and the government and it follows up the initiative the Prime Minister gave at the world summit on sustainable development last year. And it's really an initiative where for a very small sum of money, holidaymakers contribute to a foundation that can help to ensure that we keep holiday destinations in the way that people want them to be.” Does that mean that money collected in the UK could turn up in Majorca? “Yes, basically we've already had a couple of initiatives using Foundation money in places such as Cyprus. It involves going into a local area, pulling the key stake holders together, identifying what needs to be happening, and we are looking at different ways of working so that it is local people who are getting the benefit. The resorts retain something that is intrinsic and natural about them.” In the case of Majorca, would the needs be identified by the government? “When we talk about getting the key people together, it will be the local authorities, the tour operators, the hotel owners and working out the best way to actually work to retain a local holiday service.” And how much money do you think the Foundation can raise? Who actually gives to it? “It is voluntary. The tour operators that have signed up, when you book a holiday, ask for a voluntary contribution of up to 50 pence. In terms of booking a holiday it's a relatively small sum of money but I think that people will be happy to pay it because I think increasingly people are travelling more (38 million Britons last year) last year and they're looking for something that is genuinely local.” So the British government is looking to put something back in Majorca after 30 years of British tourism? “Well yes, we're looking to help local economies wherever they are throughout the world, to sustain tourism and yes, Majorca will be part of that. The reason we're here is obviously for the ABTA convention which is the best forum to launch it. But I don't want to give the impression that something is going to change and happen within Majorca, but over time Majorca will be part of it.” The last Majorcan government had a tourist tax. What do you think of a direct tax on tourism? “That's clearly a matter for government authorities, a new government was elected and took a different decision, it's not for me to interfere in those decisions within a local area.”


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