The Balearic government has ordered the immediate closure of 17 Majorcan hotels which were offering 1'500 illegal beds along with 3'500 which had legal status. The order will take a total of 5'000 beds off the market. The local tourism ministry issued the order to close on Monday and it has sent shock waves throughout the industry. The hotels must be vacated and closed by October 1. The tourism authorities said that all 17 hotels will be visited by inspectors on October 1, to ensure that the order has been enforced. If the hotels are still open, the council can order the buildings to be sealed. The government justified its decision by quoting the need to enforce the general law on tourism which allows the precautionary closing of establishments, so that the management can get rid of the illegal beds and normalise their situation, thus avoiding heavier sanctions. In some cases, the illegal beds were sold through the Internet, according to ministry sources, who said that they had waited until now rather than closing hotels at the height of the season. Tourism chief Celesti Alomar, who is currently in Germany, said he did not think that there would be any problems in finding alternative accommodation for guests. The hoteliers have been given five days in which to show they have not committed irregularities. They will also have to present a plan showing how they intend to regulate their situation. Already last year the ministry closed 28 hotels for illegal offers, and further closures may be ordered as the ministry continues its campaign to get rid of an estimated 15'000 illegal beds on the island.

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