Álvaro Nadal, the national tourism minister, yesterday said that holiday tourist rental is to blame for congestion and saturation in the Balearics. The minister also took aim at political use of "tourismphobia". "There has been no tourismphobia, but vandalism directed towards the tourism sector." Most criticism, he suggested, should be reserved for this phenomenon being used as a "political weapon" in the Balearic Islands. He acknowledged that rental is "demanded by the public" but added that "it must be regulated".
Nadal was speaking at the pre-Fitur conference organised by Exceltur. This conference, always held on the day before the Madrid fair starts, drew together leading hoteliers and others from the tourism industry as well as politicians, among them regional presidents such as Francina Armengol.
Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, the CEO of Meliá, agreed with Nadal that holiday rental is the "principal cause of saturation in the Balearics". Carmen Riu, co-president of Riu Hotels, criticised regulation of holiday rentals in the Balearics, suggesting that it was not restrictive enough and will result in "further episodes of saturation in Majorca and the other islands". Riu said that the amount of rental accommodation has led to "situations of the rejection of tourism" because of the impact on residents. She exempted hoteliers from any blame. "It's not because of the hotels, the number of beds has not increased, it's because of rental."
Armengol was involved in a debate with Escarrer, Riu and two other regional presidents - Alberto Núñez Feijóo of Galicia and Ximo Puig of Valencia. The hoteliers also attacked the tourist tax. It is an "aberration", and Riu predicted that it will result in a "progressive decrease in the number of tourists in the Balearics".
The president defended the government's policies on rentals, such as the zoning that the island councils are undertaking and the scale of fines for websites that offer illegal rentals. With regard to the tourist tax, she insisted that there has to be a focus on quality and not quantity, adding that there is "great social acceptance" of the tax and that competitor destinations, "like Greece", are implementing their own.
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