Biel Barceló during his parliamentary appearance. | @ParlamentIB

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At his appearance before parliament's tourism, innovation and research committee, Biel Barceló played down the effects of a potential decrease in the number of tourists caused by the increased tourist tax. He stated once more that it is now time to consider tourism performance in terms of quality and not quantity.

Apart from his exchange with the Partido Popular's Miquel Jerez, in which he observed that government policies have brought about increased hotel profitability and increased employment, there was an intervention from Josep Castells of Més in Minorca. He told Barceló to carry on with his policies and that if the hoteliers' forecast of a loss of one million tourists is not met, then he should continue increasing the tourist tax until that figure is met.

On other matters, Barceló explained that there will be ten new inspectors next year. He estimated that fines' revenue from illegal tourism activities will be as much as one million euros in 2018.

The PP argued that reform of tourism legislation will put a stop to investment by hotel chains. All Barceló had to say on this was that this year there have been 172 hotel modernisation projects with a total value of 274 million euros. He added that 85% of establishments have now been modernised, which will naturally mean a lowering of investment.

Barceló also said that by the end of this year there will be specific regulations for the hire-car sector. There are presently 157 registered hire-car firms operating 52,300 vehicles.

Meanwhile, government spokesperson Pilar Costa was calling yesterday for Majorca's hoteliers not to create alarm about the impact of the tourist tax. The best response, she insisted, was to look at the figures, mentioning an increase in UK flights for next year and a 16% rise in tourist spending over the first five months of this year. "The situation is positive," she stated.