What could be the final phase of the political battle over the tourist tax erupted in parliament yesterday with opposition spokesperson and former Minister for Tourism, Joan Flaquer, slamming the levy as an “econimic inconvenience.” The Balearic government is piling on the pressure to get the bill through parliament and the Minister for Tourosm,Celesti Alomar, is working to a time frame which could see the tax introduced this September, just in time catch the last month of peak season. Flaquer reminded parliament that there are still serious suspicions that the tourist tax is “unconstitutional” and “unjust.” Flaquer, talking from experience, warned that the tax will damage and restrain the Balearics competitiveness in the increasingly tough global market. But fanatical and anti-tourist support for the tax remains and yesterday the argument a tourist either can not or does not want to pay an extra 100 pesetas per day, then they are not the kind of tourists we want.” But Flaquer warned that everything must de done to protect and enhance the region's principal industry, not damage it. The opposition PP spokesperson said that the Balearic government's tourist tax scheme is “discriminatory” pointing out that it will only effect one section of the tourst industry, hotel guests, and that the illegal accommodation market will merely flourish - while being exempt from paying the tax. While it is becoming increasinly likely the government will go through with the tourist tax, as is its intention, Flaquer called on the left-wing coalitiuon to be “fairer and more reasonbale.” He said that there is still time for the bill to be modified and time to make sure that the tax is legal. There are also concerns about how the tax is actually going to be introduced and enforced. A large department of civil servants and inspectors will be needed to make sure that hotels, fiercely opposed to the tax, are collecting the levy. Andalusia, which has also looked into the viability of a tourist tax, yesterday were presented with the results of an impact study carried out on behalf of the Tourist Borad which stated that any such levy would have “perverse” effectrs on the region's tourist industry.

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