Left to right: Manuel Butler, Turespaña; Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook; Inma Benito, Majorca Hoteliers Federation; Joan Molas, Cehat; Hans Müller, Thomas Cook. | Miquel À. Cañellas

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The government's announcement of a doubling in the rate of the tourist tax from next year has been condemned by much of the tourism industry. The Partido Popular have also attacked the rise, while Podemos have expressed their satisfaction.

The CEO of Thomas Cook, Peter Fankhauser, who was in Palma for a meeting with hoteliers on Wednesday evening, said that the increase will affect customers, businesses and the Balearics as a destination. The tax rise will lead to "artificial growth in prices paid by tourists". The family tourist segment, he argued, would be the most affected and will therefore look for alternatives to the Balearics. The news of the tax rise was not "positive" for tour operators, hoteliers or customers.

Business associations say that the increase is incomprehensible, given that the tax was only introduced last year. But they believe that it is simply a means for the government to raise more general revenue.

Joan Molas, the president of Cehat, the Spanish confederation of hotel associations, who was also in Palma, said that the increase is "absurd". The government, he noted, could just keep on increasing the tax, and this will lead to rejection by tourists. "It does no favour to the tourism industry. The way forward is not by increasing taxes."

Manuel Butler, the CEO of Turespaña, observed that the national tourism minister and secretary of state for tourism are both opposed to tourist taxes. Speaking for himself, he said that an increase would be "a grave error". Inma Benito of the Majorca Hoteliers Federation had been the first to speak out. Prior to Wednesday's meeting she had said that a doubling of the tourist tax would be a "disaster".

Of other associations, the president of the Balearic Confederation of Business Associations, Carmen Planas, criticised the government's economic policy. Increasing tax pressure will harm competitiveness and economic and social development. For Planas, as with others, the tourist tax rise appears to be in order to raise greater revenue for the government. "It isn't planning specific environmental improvements, only feeding the structure for spending." She added that it would be a measure contrary to society's needs and made a reminder that it isn't only tourists who pay the tax; so also do residents if they stay in tourist accommodation.

The president of the Majorca restaurants association, Alfonso Robledo, agreed that it was a tax increase to enable more government spending. It will also reduce tourists' spending capacity. "Increasing taxes is no solution, especially not for tourism. The government wants to raise revenue without having thought about the consequences."

The Aptur holiday rentals association said that the increase was "viable" and will not affect rentals. It nevertheless criticised the government for its lack of dialogue about the tax: "a serious error and typical of the government".  

Alberto Jarabo, the general secretary of Podemos, was satisfied with the increase, believing that it is essential for solving the problem of tourist saturation. He added that the large hotel groups must decide if they are part of the problem or of the solution, as the consequences of a tourism monoculture economy are now being paid.

The leader of the Partido Popular, Biel Company, attacked the government for using the tourist tax as a deterrent tax and not as a means for making environmental improvements. He argued that the use of the tax stemmed from the "tourismphobia" of Podemos and that this has affected the government, which has been "kidnapped by Podemos".