Tomorrow, the Majorcan Hotel Federation will decide how it is going to fight the tourist tax at a special general assembly in Palma. Federation president, Pere Cañellas made it clear yesterday though “we will not be negotiating with the government nor allowing the government to politically use us.” Balearic President Francesc Antich also started the week with a demand from the Spanish chambers of commerce to suspend the tax because of the problems dogging the tourist industry. In an official communique to Antich via the Majorcan Chamber of Commerce, concerns for the negative impact the tax will have were aired along with fears that the tax will benefit competing destinations at the Balearics' expense. But closer to home, the Hotel Federation intends to defy Antich and the government. Cañellas said yesterday that his members have been singled out by Antich for criticism over their position over the tax “but it's not just us, it is also the tour operators, the chambers of commerce, the travel agents, the transport sector, among others, which are also opposed to the tourist tax.” The tax has also come under fire from Environment Minister and former Balearic leader Jaume Matas. “It will not be the tourists who pay the tax, but the people of the Balearics who really pay it,” Matas said. “If I was the Balearic government, I would have a very serious think about a tax of these characteristics,” he added. “Now the ball is in the government's court. “This is the most damaging thing to have happened to our economy and our future. “The tax is a good idea, one which we have always shared, but this is being badly executed because the people have been conned, it's not just the tourists who will pay it, but all of us,” Matas said. “Tourism chiefs in Andalucia are rubbing their hands, they're gettig ready for an increase in tourism at the expense of the Balearics and the tax,” Matas added. Leader of the Insular Council of Majorca, Maria Antonia Munar, whose Majorca Union party is part of the coalition government, urged the government to “reflect” on its decision and think about when the right time to introduce the tax is. Munar said that the tax which in principal is to be collected at airport and sea ports, but “it has been transformed in to a hotel tax.” Munar said that she can see nothing positive coming from the conflict between the government and the hotel sector over the collection of the tax and urged both sides to try and reach some form of agreement for the sake of the local economy. “Obviously the government would want to collect the tax as soon as possible, but I think that when somebody is right, that is when one can make concessions,” she said.

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