Maria Frontera, speaking on Friday. | Miquel À. Cañellas

The initial response by the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation to the Balearic government's decree on tourism circularity and sustainability was to describe it as "ambitious". The president of the federation, Maria Frontera, was referring to the plans for circularity and sustainability, to which the hoteliers are committed, but neither she nor any other spokesperson for the island's hoteliers had anything to say about the freeze on new accommodation places - until Friday.

Together with representatives from the Association of Hotel Chains, Frontera's public announcement on behalf of the federation and association came at the end of a week understood to have been characterised by internal tensions.

She said that the federation is not inclined to be interventionist, but "to listen, analyse and contribute to the development of Mallorca in particular and the Balearic Islands in general". "For this reason, the sector's commitment to circularity and sustainability is maintained, but we reject the moratorium on tourist places, given that it limits market freedom and slows down healthy competition. We ask for reflection and for the government to rectify."

Frontera added that the hoteliers are against greater growth. However, "there was already a mechanism to avoid this". "Therefore, we cannot understand the imposition of a moratorium. The only thing it will do is to have a negative impact on quality standards and to alienate a leading sector by forcing us to reduce tourist places that are a business asset. We do not like to be used. It was not necessary to rush in approving this decree law."

The federation's president was critical of the "ideological and electoral" objective of the decree. "Right now, we should be talking about how to improve connectivity and tourist resorts as well as the difficulties employers are having in hiring staff, instead of taking part in an unproductive debate. Reflection is needed on the decision to introduce a moratorium on accommodation places as well as a rectification, because the damages are greater than the benefits."

The moratorium, Frontera insisted, had not been "on the negotiating table". "And we do not agree with it, as current means for decreasing tourist places work."

President Armengol responded to Frontera's statement by reiterating a government view that the moratorium by decree was "common sense", as it avoids a "pull effect" which has previously occurred. By this, Armengol means that if the freeze were to form part of a normal parliamentary legislative process, the accommodation places would be applied for, thus nullifying the intention to halt new places for a period of four years.

The decree blocks some 18,700 new places for this four-year period. Around 8,600 of these are in Mallorca. This is the moratorium. Island councils will decide whether or not they wish to retain these places or some of them or to allow them to expire. In the context of so-called "de-growth", the decree also has provision for a five per cent reduction in hotel accommodation places in exchange for expansion within hotel grounds of up to 15%. This would be for additional facilities and not for accommodation.

There has evidently been some disagreement in hotelier ranks, which essentially comes down to the differing views of large and small hotel groups. Neither Frontera nor Armengol commented on this on Friday.