SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TOURISM SAYS TOURIST TAX IS SOILING GERMAN PUBLIC OPINION

THE Secretary of State for Tourism, Juan José Guemes, said yesterday that the proposed Balearic tourist tax has not created “a very good environment” in Germany and is one of the reasons why a significant number of German tourists have turned their backs on Majorca this year and gone elsewhere. The Secretary of State, during a meeting with tourism representatives from all of Spain's autonomous regions, admitted that it is difficult to single out a reason for the fall in the number of Germans visiting the Balearics this summer, but Guemes said that after having been to Germany, the proposed tourist tax has soiled public opinion and damaged the market. He warned that the Balearics is the only Spanish holiday destination to have experienced a fall in tourism during the first half of the year and said that he hopes bookings will pick up over the next six months. Benidorm in particular is enjoying a record summer with the opening of Terra Mitica, Europe's largest theme park proving a massive attraction. But Guemes said that, when it comes to the Balearics and Majorca, in Germany for example, people talk about the threatened tourist tax. A spokesperson for the Association of British Travel Agents, said that it is still too early to say whether or not the tourist tax will effect the British market, which is showing an increase in the Balearics this summer. But ABTA warned that nobody in Britain likes to pay taxes, especially new ones, and most people will do everything possible to avoid paying extra levies, in particular on holidays. But, the Balearic government appears set on bringing in the tax next year. Yesterday the Tourism Minister Celesti Alomar signed an accord with the Federation of Local Councils in the Balearics, of which the President is the Mayor of Calvia, Margarita Nájera, to work together in developing a series of environmental improvement projects in tourist resorts, which will be funded by money raised from the tourist tax. Alomar said that the agreement will also mean that every council has a budget for environmental improvements.

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