Francina Armengol in parliament on Tuesday. | Jaume Morey

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In parliament on Tuesday, President Armengol insisted that the new tourism decree law will not mean economic de-growth or loss of employment.

For opposition parties, unanimous in their criticisms of the decree, Josep Melià of El Pi said that the decree "ignores the reality" of holiday rentals, for which there is "much more rotation" of accommodation places than for hotels. The decree's four-year moratorium on new places will therefore seriously affect holiday lets.

"In any sector there are companies that are expanding and others that are shrinking. There is a continuous evolution. The problem with the moratorium is that it prevents this natural evolution from taking place."

Melià explained that El Pi support there not being an increase in places. However, the party believes that there should be an exchange for accommodation places and that this in itself moderates growth. "We cannot accept that a chronic shortage arises and that there is no possibility for individuals to start up a new activity." El Pi are therefore demanding "an equitable distribution" of the impact of the moratorium between hotels and holiday rentals.

On other aspects of the decree, Melià was critical of it not addressing change of use for obsolete hotel establishments, while he observed that islands' carrying capacities (of people) have "already been assessed and established". In this regard, he was referring to island councils determining whether or not islands can cope with the additional people from more accommodation places - those which, for now, have been frozen and may ultimately be scrapped.

President Armengol stated that growth over recent years "has been much more intense" in the holiday rental sector than in the hotel sector. However, she maintained that the decree law "affects them equally". It will be the island councils who, based on powers delegated to them, will make decisions regarding accommodation places.

As to obsolescence, this is addressed by increasing the quality parameters that are required in the revised hotel classification (contained in the decree).The government, she noted, will be making available sixty million euros of direct investment.

The president added that the decree will be processed as a parliamentary bill and that all parties will be able to make their contributions for improving its text.