The Balearic tourist industry posted the lowest growth rate in Spain this year and the President of the Association of Spanish Travel Agents, Juan Careaga, is convinced that the tourist tax debate is already having a negative impact on the region's industry and that if the tax is introduced next summer, it will have a seriously damaging effect on the market. The Association is “deeply opposed” to the tax, Careaga says. “We don't like the idea of the tourist tax in the Balearics and we believe that the government could and should have devised an alternative formula which would not affect tourists. Tourists are going to be sanctioned to visit the Balearics.” Careaga has warned the Balearic government that Spanish travel agents are unanimously against the tax and that the levy will not only effect the overseas tourist markets, but also the domestic sector, which the local authorities have been trying to revive. At the end of this month most of the Balearic hotel sector, which includes over 1'000 hotels and 500'000 beds, will close its doors and not re-open until May next year, when they could find themselves faced with the tourist tax. Come December, only 25 percent of the region's hotels will be open, but the secretary general of the Majorcan Hotel Federation, Antoni Munar, says that those hotels staying open over the winter are expecting a good season.

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