THE Balearic Minister for Tourism, Joan Flaquer, has asked central Government to permit the Balearics to regulate illegal tourist lettings.
Yesterday he asked his national opposite number, Jose Montilla, to modify the Law of Urban Letting (LAU) so that the autonomous regions with tourist areas can begin to regulate tourist lettings. During a tourism conference, Flaquer raised with Montilla the subject of the growing problem of tourist lettings in the islands which is a sector at present unregulated in Spain, according to sources at the Balearic Ministry who added that the Minister had promised to study the Balearic request. Flaquer said that he considers it necessary to modify the law so that it will deal specifically with tourist lettings and therefore allow the autonomous regions to regulate a very wide range of lettings which at the moment are “out of our power”. Sources confirmed that the Tourist Inspection Service were incapable of controlling tourist lettings as opposed to ordinary rental contracts. “Millions of tourist dwellings have sprung up and there are no existing controls for the guarantee of services, for example security. At the same time this is generating a black economy which is hidden from the Tax Office, fuelling an increase in the buying of properties destined for the tourist market,” they said. For this reason, Flaquer has asked the central Government to act “emphatically and clearly” to resolve this problem which the autonomous regions are now struggling with, with more and more tourist beds, where “a great quantity of housing, flats, apartments, rural houses are being offered commercially to tourists without any controls existing”. On the other hand, Flaquer showed his disagreement with the central Government by criticising its decision to dedicate only 50 percent of its external promotion budget to sun and sea, when this sector was the biggest tourism sector in Spain. Flaquer protested about this distribution of budget, saying that this could weaken the islands' tourism. The tourism chief also told Montilla that it would be necessary to modify the decree which regulates the grants from the State Financial Fund for the Modernisation of Tourist Infrastructures (FOMIT). At the moment this excludes Palma in spite of it being a popular tourist destination. With regard to this matter, which Montilla also promised to study, Flaquer told him that it was “contradictory” that the pilot project to improve the Playa de Palma was not included in the budget. During the conference 17 plans for the Promotion of Tourism were ratified. These will be put into effect next year in 14 autonomous regions, with a total investment of 45.7 million euros. Two of these plans are for Ciutadella (3 million euros) and Alaior (3.2 million) in Minorca.

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