The Balearic leader Francesc Antich sought yesterday to win the support of the tourist industry for his controversial tourist tax. Speaking at the Fitur tourism trade fair in Madrid, Antich said “there will be no back-tracking over the tax, but we are willing to negotiate on how it will be levied.” But his comments were not well received by hoteliers who believe that the tourist tax will dip into their profits. They are already taking legal action, claiming that the tax is “illegal.” Antich called on the tourist industry to negotiate and co-operate more closely with his government for the good of the industry. His relations with the tourist trade have been distinctly frosty since he came to power in June 1999. But despite this state of affairs the Balearic leader said that his door was always open and he underlined the importance of the tourist industry to the local economy. “The money from the tourist tax will be directly spent on protecting the environment and on safeguarding natural areas. There will also be additional money to improve the tourist resorts,” he said. Antich was also upbeat, saying that the Balearics was the top tourist destination in Spain and underlining that revenue from tourism had increased to the one billion peseta mark this year. “Last year we were visited by a record number of 11 million holidaymakers,” he said. Antich also underlined the fact that the Balearics was in a great position as it could still remain competitive but hoteliers did not have to drop their prices.

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