By Jason Moore
THE first salvo in what is expected to be a bruising local election campaign was fired yesterday by Jaume Matas, the candidate for Balearic President from the right-wing Partido Popular. Matas called on the Balearic government to change its “suicidal” tourism policies which were “ruining” the industry. Now Jaume Matas was Balearic leader until the last elections but he was defeated at the polls by Francesc Antich who formed his five party coalition to stop the Partido Popular from getting into office. Four years later and this election looks like being a re-run of the last one although Antich and Matas are in different positions. I wouldn't say that the Balearic government's tourism policy is suicidal, slightly off track certainly, but not suicidal. The principal of the tourist tax is a good one although the implementation left plenty to be desired. The island does appear to be benefiting from the money and tourists don't mind paying, or so it appears as long as the money is well-spent. In the same way as Matas called on Antich to be responsible over his anti-war stance on Iraq I think Matas should be responsible over tourism. The last thing the Balearics needs at the moment is a war of words over tourism between politicians. Bookings are down, we are facing war and the island politicians should be trying to put a brave face on things and not fighting amongst themselves. Much has been said about the media, especially in Germany, giving the islands negative publicity. Well, Sr. Matas has done just that and he shouldn't be too surprised when he sees his comments reflected in the German media while the Balearic government are doing all they can in Germany to try and salvage the situation.

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