The regional government and the Majorca Hoteliers Federation might hold wildly differing views regarding the tourist tax but they share very similar views when it comes to the issue of residential tourism, a catch-all term but one which, in this respect, refers to holiday lets.
The federation's president, Inma de Benito, handed government representatives a document at last week's Fitur travel fair in Madrid in which there is a proposal for a ceiling to growth of residential tourism in order to avoid services being overstretched and the image of Majorca being damaged. Vice-President Barceló, after an initial look at the document, says that he understands the need for such a limit, just as there is for regulated tourist accommodation supply (the hotels, for example).
"We are a 'refuge' destination. Therefore, there are conditions which favour ever more tourists coming this summer. But last summer during the peak months there was a sense of overcrowding that affected the general quality of life for both tourists and residents. This overcrowding was not produced by the hotels but by the rise in residential tourism," says Benito. With this in mind, the federation is asking town halls to analyse levels of legal and illegal accommodation in order that some form of ceiling might be created.
"This type of tourism cannot just keep on growing as it will end up destroying the current tourism model. It is residential tourism that is causing services to be overstretched because of an absence of control. Hotel occupancy will be above 90% but it will not be the regulated offer causing further pressure this summer."
Barceló says he appreciates the federation's concerns as they are also the government's. "We know that there has to be a limit to residential tourism and we are going to address this when reforming the tourism law. It is a challenge for all administrations to have order and control so as to avoid overstretching services. We will have to get used to there being limits in order to avoid saturation, such as with access to beaches in protected areas. We have spoken about this with the Canary Islands as both of us have a similar problem, meaning that we have to regulate holiday rentals and limit the number of places."
Joan Estarellas, the president of Aptur, the association for private tourist accommodation, agrees that that it is logical to want to have a ceiling. "But in order for there to be, we have to enable all tourist accommodation to operate under the same conditions as the regulated supply." Aptur recognises that there are more than 126,000 residential tourism places in the Balearics that are not being controlled but are also ones for which a legal outcome is being sought in order that there aren't any sanctions.
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