Biel Barceló in parliament yesterday. | Teresa Ayuga


The tourism minister, Biel Barceló, yesterday blamed the Partido Popular for the current problem with holiday rentals. "We have a genuine problem because their law (the 2012 tourism law) did not pursue what is illegal."

The PP's tourism spokesperson, Álvaro Gijón, accused the government of not having its own tourism model. "There is only the Podemos model. They want tourism to disappear. The biggest defenders of the hoteliers are you (the government), while the future mayor of Palma, Antoni Noguera, has asked for one thing and the PSOE mayor (José Hila) says the opposite." This was a reference to the banning or not of holiday rentals in Palma.

Barceló responded by attacking the PP's tourism management capabilities and said that the new law for holiday rentals will open the way for there to be rentals in apartment buildings while also establishing a ceiling on numbers. The existing law of the PP didn't solve any problem, he insisted.

Gijón wanted to know what Barceló thought about the recent study by two professors at the University of the Balearic Islands. Their conclusions indicated that holiday rentals are providing income to families who in the majority of cases do not live off tourism. Rentals, therefore, spread the wealth of tourism "more equitably, which is what the parties of the left want".

Barceló said that the government respects all the studies undertaken by the university. The professors' report, he added, has some very interesting aspects. "But it has not taken into account other issues, which different research has revealed." He specifically referred to another university study which linked evictions to the increase in holiday rentals.

President Armengol, meanwhile, insisted that the number of tourists coming in winter lends support to the government's tourism model. This is one which is "sustainable, with quality and respectful of the land" and will allow a greater spread of wealth through employment of greater quality.

Significant measures have been adopted, she said, for lengthening the tourism season in winter, and she highlighted the conversion of resorts such as Magalluf. She also stressed the fact that the government is defending workers' rights in the tourism sector "more than ever before".

The president was replying to the PP's Marga Prohens, who accused the government of improvising and of preparing a law for holiday rentals "that will create problems that there weren't".