28-10-2014JULIAN AGUIRRE

Tourism business associations remain overwhelmingly opposed to the government's tourist tax, arguing that it will harm Balearic competitiveness. This was the key message of a meeting at the tourism ministry presided over by Pilar Carbonell, the director-general of tourism, and Maria Antonia Truyols, the director of the Tax Agency in the Balearics.

Lined up against the government was the combined might of, among others, the Majorca Hoteliers Federation, the Association for Maritime Activities, the Restaurants Association, Agrotourism, the Association for Vehicle Rental, the Federation of Transport Operators, the Federation of Retailers, and the Fomento del Turismo (aka the Majorca Tourist Board). The only association giving the government any support was Aptur, which represents tourist apartment owners.

Carbonell and Truyols heard numerous and harsh criticisms, such as those which suggested that nothing had been learned from 2001 (when the old eco-tax was approved for introduction in 2002) and that the government was just doing the same again.

The hoteliers' president, Inma de Benito, asked Carbonell that, given that the tourist tax had a clear objective for tax-revenue generation, its introduction should be delayed until the end of 2016 and be dropped by 2019. Benito also wanted the maximum rate of the tax to be one euro per occupied room and for it to not apply during the low season. The other associations were broadly in agreement with these proposals, while they also rejected the idea that hotels should be the points at which the tax will be collected.

Also attending the meeting were representatives of shipping companies, and they expressed their opposition to cruise ships being subject to the tax, as this would affect the strategy of increasing this type of tourism for the Balearics.

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Steve Riches / Hace over 5 years

Business people have their finger on the pulse. Many of the politicians have their fingers elsewhere.

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