The island councils and regional ministries of tourism, culture and the environment have conducted a preliminary study into ways that revenue from the tourist tax could be used on the four islands. An overriding aim of this, according to Pilar Carbonell, the regional director-general for tourism, is for actions on behalf of the image of the Balearics in Europe so that tourists can see how revenue is being invested.
The projects are focused on improving the tourist product, recovery of cultural and artistic heritage and investment in the environment in protected natural parks. The range of initiatives will in due course be presented to the committee to supervise the distribution of revenues via the fund that will be created from the tax revenues.
In the list that has been developed are initiatives for the protection and recuperation of the natural, rural and marine environments (including coastal cleaning), ecosystem conservation, electric-vehicle charging points, reforestation and forest maintenance and the use of farm land on public fincas. On tackling seasonality and tourism promotion, there is mention of the revival of the Pla Oci 65 (the system of subsidised inter-island travel in winter for senior citizens), water treatment plants, cycling routes, hiking (on the dry stone route) and renewable energies.
These are not defined or definite projects, the tourism ministry points out. They are things for consideration or for which work is currently being done but which could be firmed up and presented to the supervising committee. They may not all be suggested, while there might be others that could also be presented.
Carbonell says that the priority objective of the tax and its revenue is the improvement of the land and environment. "We want to compensate for the ecological impact of tourism. It is also clear that we want to promote a change to the tourist model that addresses seasonality and social, environmental and economic sustainability."
She is stressing the fact that the government wants to act with maximum transparency in the distribution of revenues and project selection. "The tourist needs to be able to see eventually where the investment has been made and can check that the tax is effective. Transparency has to be at the maximum. Everything that is done should serve as a means of promotion overseas through the way in which a holiday destination can improve its competitiveness and commitment to sustainability."
The Council of Majorca is stressing the need for improving areas that have been affected by tourism via landscaping interventions in mature resort zones. Improvement of the tourism product is important for each of the island councils and this would include roads (such as widening for cyclists) as well as investment in heritage and the environment. In Majorca, the Tramuntana mountains are key, with improvements to be made to their World Heritage Site status.
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