Spain's leading hoteliers Gabriel Escarrer, Simón Pedro Barceló, Miquel Fluxá and Luis Riu admitted yesterday that “uncertainty” is the tourist industry's principal obstacle. In a FITUR special edition of the industry magazine Preferente published today, the chairmen of the hotel chains Sol-Meliá, Barceló, Iberostar y Riu, respectively, air their opinions about the current condition of post-September 11 tourism. Fluxá believes that the repercussions have been less than initially feared, with regards to hotel occupation levels and that Iberostar's airline has been seeing a recent revival in passenger numbers. However, tourism markets are not expected to come alive again until towards the end of the year. Escarrer, who spoke out in Madrid against the tourist tax, said that September 11 has especially hit airlines and hotel chains. He said that the crisis has had important repercussions on the international tourism industry and that there have so far been few signs of the industry recovering. Escarrer believes that the euro will help to make Spain an attractive destination again once tourists realise that they no longer have to pay currency exchange commission costs. With regards to the Balearics, he is most concerned about the tourist tax “it's unfair and affects people to different degrees. The figures speak for themselves, only 60 per cent of people coming to the Balearics stay in hotels or registered apartments, the remaining 40 per cent will not pay the tax. We don't believe it fair that only hotels should be targeted.”

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