Matilde Asián with Miquel Fluxà of Iberostar. | Chema Moya

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Matilde Asián, the secretary of state for tourism, has told hoteliers gathered in Madrid that she intends to look at harmonisation of holiday rentals' regulations at regional level. "There has to be global consensus for regulation so that regions can avoid problems. There will be negotiations with the regions."

She placed special emphasis on the need for tax control in order to prevent unfair competition and fraud. Joan Molas, president of Cehat, the national hoteliers' confederation, noted that there is an underground economy that must be regulated and for which fiscal control by the regions and the state is essential.

The former foreign affairs minister and president of the Palladium Hotel Group, Abel Matutes, argued that the rentals' sector must pay the same taxes as the regulated sector. This requires inspection work and tax control in the Balearics and the rest of the regions. "If there is no control of the so-called collaborative lodging, the Spanish brand will be harmed at the international level."

The president of the confederation of business organisations, Joan Gaspart, echoed this by saying that the collaborative economy cannot be accepted in tourism. "The government must ensure that legality prevails over illegality."

On another contentious issue - IVA (VAT) - Asián said that the government will not allow, "under any circumstance", an increase to the 10% rate of IVA which applies to most of the tourism sector.

Matutes praised Asián and the government for not bowing to demands for an increase from outside agencies, such as the International Monetary Fund. "There are bodies who do not know what tourism means for the Spanish economy. An increase in the rate would result in a loss of competitiveness for Spanish tourist destinations. Tourism was the economy's engine during the crisis and it will continue to be. Now and forever."

Molas added: "Not raising IVA is a top priority for the Spanish economy and for all tourist areas of the country. It must not go up."

Others attending the meeting with Asián included Miquel Fluxá of Iberostar, Carmen Riu, and Javier Hidalgo of Globalia.