Francina Armengol, Biel Barceló and Baltasar Picornell among those at the Night of Tourism gala. | Jaume Morey

Two days after having gathered at the Palacio de Congresos for its official inauguration, some of the protagonists on Monday returned there last night for the Night of Tourism gala. In recognition of the UN's World Tourism Day, this is an annual event, though this one had as its background the spat between Meliá, the hoteliers (who have defended Gabriel Escarrer's remarks on Monday) and the government.

In her address last night, President Armengol reminded Meliá (and everyone else) that it had been the citizens who had paid the hundred million euros for the Palacio. She said once more that the tourist tax was a means of helping to share the profits generated by tourism. It is a measure that the government had to adopt because the wealth created by the main industry in the Balearics "is not produced as it should be". The government, she explained, is pursuing a new paradigm for tourism. The industry will drive social progress and not benefit only a few.

Tourism minister Biel Barceló said that the government has opted for balance in and containment of tourism. "If we want to have a future, if we want to be unique, if we want to work all year, we have to be sustainable. And this now means a decrease in summer and a movement of tourists to the winter." The minister also referred to the negotiations for hotel sector wages. "These cannot wait until the last minute to be signed," he observed. "The necessary step needs to be taken to increase salaries and reduce the burden of work to levels for the twenty-first century." (It is understood that there is in fact agreement in principle by the hoteliers and unions for a 17% increase in salaries over four years.)

There were awards last night. The University of the Balearic Islands tourism faculty received one for tourism applied knowledge and research. The Garden Hotels chain gained the award for best sustainable tourism initiative through its Save Posidonia project. And the tourist experience award went to the Camí de Cavalls and the Yannick and Ben Jakober Foundation (in Alcudia) for promoting tourism for quality and sustainability.