Following the announcement of how 2019 tourist tax revenue is to be spent, environmentalists Amics de la Terra (Friends of the Earth) and GOB issued a joint statement in which they described the management of the tourist tax as a "fraud". The statement said that "the management of the tax is a fraud in terms of the initial spirit of the sustainable tourism tax and the purposes for which it was conceived".
The Arca heritage association called the tax a "hotch-potch" that is being used to fill holes in the government's budget. The association added that it had abstained from voting on tax spending decisions in protest at the "meagre percentage" devoted to heritage and land conservation.
Arca, Amics de la Terra and GOB are all represented on the committee which decides how the tax revenue is to be spent. They have expressed their discontent with the selection of projects - 68 new ones to be funded with 105 million euros - as have others.
Felib is the federation of town halls. Its secretary, Neus Serra, said that the town halls are wasting their time in presenting project proposals for receiving tourist tax funding. None of the 36 projects submitted by town halls are to get funding.
The federation voted against the selection of projects at the Tuesday meeting of the committee. The Felib president, Toni Salas, is to request a meeting with the tourism minister Iago Negueruela in order to "clarify what role he wants municipalities to play". Salas insisted that town halls won't bother doing all the work required in drafting proposals, if "they are not going to be taken into account".
Jordi Mora, president of the Pimem small to medium-sized businesses federation, believed that tourists are being tricked into thinking that tourist tax-funded projects are for alleviating the impact of tourism on the environment. In this regard, he referred to the use of tax revenue for the extension of the Palma Metro and for social housing. "We are lying to visitors; this tax is becoming a mere collection tool."
The committee consists of government ministers and representatives from the island councils, town halls (Palma has its own representation), environmentalists, business (including hoteliers), unions, heritage, farming and the university. A chief criticism is the fact that spending decisions are already made by the government before they are discussed by the committee, membership of which is weighed in the government's favour.
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