Tourism Minister Iago Negueruela answering his critics yesterday in Parliament. | Jaume Morey

The Minister for Tourism, Economy and Employment, Iago Negueruela, said yesterday that he shares “many elements” of which the SOS Turismo campaign. “We will jointly defend them and raise them to the Government” , he told Parliament yesterday.

But, the opposition Partido Popular want the Balearic government to increase pressure on central government even more.

PP MP Salomé Cabrera said that the SOS Turismo movement is “a desperate cry from employers and employees against the total abandonment by the local and central governments”, which have been accused of ignoring the severity of the situation.

Cabrera accused the Balearic government of applying “policies with the usual tourist-phobic bias”, to which Negueruela replied that the regional executive “is not tourist-phobic in any shape or form.”

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The tourism minister promised to work “with the whole of society” to “get out” of the complex situation that the sector is going through and has assured that the government tries to apply measures to “accompany” this difficult situation. Negueruela stressed that “tourism must be reactivated, it is very important for thousands of workers” and said that he shares “many elements of campaign.” “We will jointly defend them and present them to central government,” he stated.

“We all have the obligation to reactivate tourism to employ thousands of workers and defend the self employed and we need to transmit a message of unity,” he said and asked the PP to “moderate its stance and positively participate in the revival of the tourist industry.”

He told the PP that is should be backing the government in supporting the campaign and all measures being taken to get tourism moving again. Cabrera stressed that “the situation is drastic” and accused the government of “having dome very little to defend tourism”, highlighting that the Balearics is “well below 2% of vaccination of the population. And there is no plan B if we do not have 70% vaccinated by June, a difficult target to meet at the current rate of the vaccine roll out,” she warned.

Cabrera also accused the government of “punishing the hostelry industry by closing it for at least another 15 days without any scientific basis while opening shopping centres and expanding capacity in theatres, cinemas and on public transport.”

“People are desperate,” warned Cabrera. “Take some responsibility,” she told Negueruela and warned that “either they starting adopting some urgent measures or SOS Turismo (which was launched in Mallorca) is going to become SOS Balearic Islands.” More than 22,000 people have joined the SOS Turismo initiative in the last three days to demonstrate their concern over the economic impact that the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent restrictions are having on companies and jobs. Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are jammed full of messages of support, which is greatly valued by SOS promoters. Those who have signed up have said they’re deeply concerned about the slow pace of the vaccination campaign and the fact that tourism companies don’t know when the 2021 season will begin.