Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, the CEO of Meliá Hotels International, told a Palma audience on Wednesday that he endorses the 300,000 euro fine handed out to Airbnb by the Balearic government. "It was necessary," he observed, speaking in the context of stamping out illegal holiday rentals.
Organised by the Balearic association for family businesses, the audience also heard Escarrer explain that he is in favour of holiday rentals. The sector must, however, be regulated so that the same conditions apply as to the hotel industry. As for the government's legislation, he suggested that "patches" are being placed; there has to be a definition as to "where we want to locate holiday rentals".
Under the government's tourism law reform, there will be over 42,000 new accommodation places in Majorca. Most of these - around 30,000 - will be for holiday rentals. The rest will be for other types of accommodation. Asked if this number will be enough for hotels, Escarrer offered no opinion, preferring to refer to a future in which there is a focus on quality and product diversification.
It's important, he stressed, to seize the opportunity to consolidate the position of the Balearics, to which tourists have come in recent years because of conflicts in competing Mediterranean destinations.
Escarrer also mentioned the Luis Riu affair and the allegations made by the prosecutor in Miami-Dade County about gifts to public officials. He again offered no particular opinion except to say that Luis Riu is "very professional and ethical".
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