Interesting to see some of the comments being made by leading local officials about the tourist tax.
The President of the Majorcan Tourist Board, Miguel Vicens, a long-time critic of the surcharge, was quoted as saying on Tuesday night that “it wouldn't really affect tourism at all.” I seem to remember him forecasting doom and gloom if the tax was ever introduced. But I think Sr. Vicens is right and he has taken a stance which should be followed by other members of the tourist industry. Unfortunately, and rather stupidly the Balearic government has decided to introduce the tax this year. Now, I could fill this column with reasons why the tax shouldn't be introduced. But, the democratically elected government of these islands in their wisdom have decided that a tax is to be paid. We depend on tourism for our livelihood and therefore the time has now passed to question and criticise the controversial surcharge. Now we must all work together to try and salvage the summer season and give an upbeat message that the Balearics are one of the best places in the world to go on holiday. The time has come to move forward and try and overcome ill-timed legislation.

The local government has not taken any notice of warnings from all quarters of the tourist industry. It is their decision. Now, the tourist trade must face the consequences and try to ensure that we have a good holiday season. The tourist tax is unfortunately here.

There is nothing that anyone can do except try and make the best of a pretty bad situation.

Jason Moore.

New energy needed

Aneurin Bevan once said that Britain was a land “surrounded by fish and built on coal”. It was a comforting thought in the late-1940s - but it is no longer true. Fish stocks are almost exhausted and it is now too expensive to dig coal out of the ground. With care the seas can be replenished but what can replace coal as Britain's long-term energy source? North Sea oil and gas resources are not limitless and are being used voraciously - 30 per cent of the UK's electricity is currently produced from natural gas and already 15 per cent of it is imported. These are the kind of issues considered in a new government report on future energy needs a much-needed piece of “blue-sky” thinking.

One of the key issues is whether nuclear power, at present accounting for 25 per cent of power generation, should continue to be a major contributor. Its supporters say that it is clean and economic; its opponents point to the risk of accidents at nuclear power stations and to their vulnerablity to terrorist attacks. It is also a fact that nuclear power's competitive cost depends on the government's willingness to pick up the huge bill for disposing of spent fuel. All the signs point to the need to invest in renewable energy resources - hydroelectric, wind, wave and solar power. At the moment they provide less than three percent of the UK's energy, considerably less than countries such as Denmark and Germany have achieved. The new report suggests a target of 20 per cent of demand by these means - but recognises that their development will be costly.

Monitor.

Shortage of doctors and nurses, but no shortage of barristers

Dear Sir,
In the UK there is a serious shortage of doctors and nurses.
However, there is NO shortage of barristers in the legal profession.
UK Health Service funding is far below that of Europe, however, the government seems to easily find taxpayers money to fund High Court appeals like Bloody Sunday etc.

Oh why couldn't the PM, his spouse and some of the cabinet have been doctors instead of barristers?

A. Martin. 103 Walker St Eastwood Notts. (by e-mail)

Majorca will still be a top destination

Dear Sir,
The open letter to Sr. Antich (Majorca Daily Bulletin 23.1.2002) from Mr Flook on the introduction of the ecotax, has some points that need clarifying and/or questioned.

Firstly, everyone will realise that Mr Flook as Secretary General of a large tour operators federation has a vested interest in keeping package holiday prices to a minimum, his main interest will be in increasing volume of clients, i.e. quantity over quality.

Those who live on the Island are concerned with its present and future state.
The island cannot be increased in size, so the same water supplies of 30 years past catering to one million visitors, now have to cope with ten million, hence desalination plants recently installed. The same applies to electricity supply, mounting piles of refuse, inadequate roads for Majorca, where we have the highest ratio of cars to population in Europe.

If the number of tourists is checked, or even reduced, it will not be so serious, as those looking for the cheapest deal on offer invariably spend the least here, and the island needs some breathing space to re-coup.

Last year it was reported that whilst there was a small drop in the number of visitors, spending on the Island increased.
Every shopkeeper knows that it is not the number of people wearing out his carpet that counts, but the money in the till at the end of the day! As far as the “legal responsibility” of advising tourists of the tax, etc. this ecotax has been proposed for more than one year now, and I find it strange that tour operators do not put in their “small print” something to cover future eventualities out of their control.

In fact, when recently obtaining a price on flights, always I was told, the price excluded “airport charges and local taxes.” Airport charges and port charges have also been increased recently, but have not received the publicity of the ecotax, but have to be allowed for anyway.

Personally, I do not like taxes, like the ecotax, it receives the wrong response, rather a tax on excessive/above norm use of water, electricity and refuse would have raised the funds from the tourist sector which by far uses the vast majority of these services and often indiscriminately, as opposed to residents.

It is all guesswork about how the coming season will progress, but since September 11, Majorca is not alone in this, however, people will continue to take holidays and Majorca will be at the top of the list of desirable destinations without doubt.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Phillips.

Spain being generous to Gibraltar

Dear Sir,
I refer to your “Viewpoint” of January 15, 2002, wherein you say that the only way forward in the problem of Gibraltar is granting independence within the European Union.

For the benefit of your British readers, Spain has never given up its claim of sovereignty over Gibraltar. The same treaty of Uthretch by which Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713 says that Spain has the right to recover Gibraltar should Britain no longer need it.

Spain is offering very generaous terms, a 100 year transition period during which Gibraltar would be administered jointly by Spain and Britain, during which the people in Gibraltar would have the best of Spain and Britain and the solution suggested by Mr. Jason Moore is simply unacceptable to Spain. After all, 40 million Spaniards have rights too.

Yours sincerely,

Pedro Picornell.

The pollution in Santa Ponsa was disgusting

Dear Sir,
I was interested to read your front page story today concerning pollution from yachts.
I was on holiday in Majorca last August and the pollution in Santa Ponsa bay was disgusting.
Plastic bags, cans, bottles, condoms and faeces all in the water - and the smell was foul too.
We were staying in Santa Ponsa but drove to the beach in Palma Nova every day where it was somewhat cleaner.
We did, like a lot of people, pick carrier bags out of the sea each day and put them on the beach while the little boat that cleans the bay spent most of the day cleaning one small spot - next to the pedaloes in the corner of the beach - where no-one was swimming! I contacted Calvia Council and eventually got a reply in Spanish. So, that was really helpful! If you want tourists in Mallorca and you want them to return then it might be a good idea to look after them and not drive them away with polluted waters.

Yours faithfully,

Jan Andersen-Page. Wiltshire, UK (by e-mail).

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