Dear Sir,
I am a Spanish resident on the island, and I've worked in the tourist industry for nearly ten years. I read every day in your paper all types of letters about the tourist tax, mainly from tourists, a few from residents. Everybody is trying to blame everybody else, and I understand it's a matter of pride, the tourists don't want to be blamed for polluting the island and the residents don't want to feel that they owe their lives to the tourists. The only one that doesn't seem to be bothered about the whole thing is the stubborn Mr. Antich (President of the Balearic government.) In all the years I've worked in this beloved island, I've seen many things that I don't like. One of them being the massive building of apartments and hotels, another one the loss of tranquility and peace that surrounded the island when I moved here from the mainland. I am not blaming the tourists, though, I blame it on the politicians and their greed, their lack of proper planning, without looking to the future, just seeking immediate riches, oblivious to the consequences. They acted like a child with a new toy, tearing it to pieces in their blind bid to getting most of it as fast as possible. I am not happy with the way they are handling things and I let them know every now and then through their complaints line. I would also like to say that in all these years living between both tourists and residents I have seen everything: wonderful, lovely tourists who come here every year and respect the island and the people, whom I always cherish to see again, and others who'd go to any extreme to get anything for free, from a meal to the whole holiday. I've seen a family of four sharing one big mac and two portions of chips as their evening meal every day, a woman asking for a mixed salad, eating it all and not wanting to pay for it saying it was a vegetarian salad she wanted, (one of many cases like that, as I've seen in the restaurant next to my work place), others trying to get a discount on a two Pound souvenir or a discount on the ridiculously cheap car rental prices on the island (compared to the rest of Europe). A couple buying a toy, their kid smashing it against the floor and the parents screaming at the shop assistant because she didn't want to exchange it for a new one....and so on. These are all real cases and I insist there are many, wonderful people, but my point is: the ones getting richer are the construction companies, the estate agents, the developers, the banks, the big rental companies, the tour operators, the politicians. But believe you me, not the small, local businesses who pay big taxes and get minimal profits, and have not had a holiday for years, as their earnings do not allow it, not the young people trying to start a life without a home they can not buy because everything is too expensive, not the ordinary people who can not sleep because of the continuous loud noises from the pubs or the drunkards shouting or the building machinery during the day. A reader said in your paper the other day that the Majorcan residents are now rich because of tourism, that we live in lovely houses and have successful businesses: nothing farther from the truth. Did this reader know that while most residents struggle to buy a home, 40 per cent of the island's homes are empty because speculators buy them just to make profits or are just a second home to the wealthy few? Most of the people I speak to talk with nostalgia about the way the island was before. Now it is just another Mediterranean resort full of concrete and extremely overcrowded. So, I wish both tourists and residents would stop this war of words because it is taking them nowhere: the political class is and will be greedy all over the world and nothing can change that. My final point is the tourist tax is no big deal - one euro per day (65p) is not going to make anybody poor or stop them from coming (maybe only the whinging ones). What is wrong, is the way that the government has promoted it, the tourists have taken it personally, as a punishment. Many countries have a tourist tax already, and no one complains. It the tax is used properly, everybody will benefit from it. But then again, with these politicians.....

C. Sebastian Santa Ponsa

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