David Abril of Més, right at the centre of the Palacio tourist tax speech rumpus. | Jaume Morey

Meliá Hotels International yesterday released a statement in which it noted its surprise that the company's non-executive president's observations about the tourist tax during his speech at the opening of the Palacio de Congresos were all that were being mentioned.

The hotel group highlights the fact that Gabriel Escarrer Julià emphasised the achievements of the Balearic government and Palma town hall as developers and owners of the Palacio complex. Both administrations had made great efforts, in spite of the innumerable difficulties that had been faced, to complete and implement the project, and President Armengol was fundamental to this.

The Palacio is a flagship for the city, and the only achievements to be attributed to Meliá are in overcoming the challenge of implementation and of starting operations successfully. The company, which is the Palacio's tenant, has a fifteen-year lease. Over this period it has pledged to provide the owners the agreed profitability as well as a series of benefits for Palma.

Escarrer specifically praised and congratulated the administrations for the priorities given to responsible tourism and sustainability policies.

Yet despite these statements, the tourist tax was all that was mentioned in some quarters. Observations made regarding the tax were an exercise in free expression by someone with vast experience of tourism policy. They were made with "absolute correctness" by an internationally recognised businessman in the tourism sector. The speech was made with the same freedom and moderation as that of other speakers, such as the logical defence of her tourism policy by President Armengol.

The company statement added that Meliá has a deep respect for freedom of expression and rejects any pressures or threats against such freedom from any quarter. It reiterated its full commitment to the ownership of the Palacio and to Balearic society, which is undoubtedly already beginning to perceive the benefits that, managed with professional competence, it can give to the community.

* The Meliá statement, it seemed, was largely motivated by the attacks that had been made by Laura Camargo of Podemos and David Abril of Més. Abril responded to the Meliá response by saying, among other things, "some people confuse caciquism with freedom of expression". Camargo, as it had been reported, had rejected Escarrer's freedom of expressing by asking him to retract his opinion of the tourist tax.