Mariano Rajoy in Palma yesterday. | Pere Bota


Speaking in Palma yesterday, Prime Minister Rajoy hinted that an increase in the residents flight discount to 75% will be contained in the state budget.

Rajoy was attending a Partido Popular conference that was principally to do with tourism. His words about the discount came a few days before what will be a crucial vote in Congress on the 2018 budget. He insisted that the government is doing everything possible to ensure that the price of air travel is not "a cause of isolation" for residents in the Balearics and the Canaries.

The prime minister attacked the Balearic government, saying that all it does is engage in fighting and inventing problems rather than taking care of what is working and correcting what isn't working. He accused President Armengol and the government of "demonising tourism" and of creating "phobias towards everything that works and that is good for Spain" - tourismphobia, "a most unusual invention". The main problem for the Balearics, Rajoy suggested, is that the region "has the misfortune to suffer from a government which is dedicated to inventing problems and promoting an agenda of division and confrontation".

While he said to regional PP leader Biel Company that he could rest easy on the flight discount, he added that "those who cannot sleep peacefully are those of the ecotax ... those who are against tourism and want to have things in budgets but then vote against them". He was referring here, it seemed, to the fact that PSOE have called for the increase in the flight discount but have been unwilling to support the budget.

Álvaro Nadal, the minister for energy, tourism and the digital agenda, had opened the conference by observing that people who oppose tourists are acting out of "ideological rage" and are unable to recognise reality. It doesn't make sense for someone to believe that tourism is harmful. "Those who say this would rather live in a cave and not buy anything from the rest of the world." They don't understand, he added, how the economy works.

Likewise, the minister went on, those who approved the tourist tax in the Balearics "don't understand how the global economy of the 21st century works".

With regard to Brexit, Nadal said that the Spanish government's position is that there should be no impact on tourists: not on flights, not on health cards and not with any tax. "In practical terms, tourists shouldn't be aware of Brexit."