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Antich and his team in Madrid yesterday.

20-08-2013
Spain's Minister for Commerce and Tourism, Juan Costa, said in Madrid yesterday that the Balearics was the only region in Spain to have watched tourism decline last year and that the German slump would have effected Spain's tourism industry as a whole had it not been for an increase in Britons. However, while Costa said that the 6.2 per cent (827.000 visitors) rise in British tourists to Spain off-set the 5.4 per cent German decline, Balearic President Francesc Antich made his appearance at the FITUR trade fair to announce that the hotel and apartment guests in the Balearics will start paying the tourist tax from May 1. Antich said that over the next few days, an inter-departmental commission will be formed to decided which projects will be funded by money raised by the tax this year. The Balearic president repeated his government's availability to discuss the tax's application with the various opposing sectors of the tourist industry but warned “for those who think that the government has to scrap the tax before sitting down for talks, the negotiations will be very difficult.” Antich was unable to quantify how much money the tax will raise this year, the annual target is 10'000 million pesetas, but he is confident that sufficient funds will be raised for a number of environmental projects. The special commission will include representatives from all social sectors in order to ensure the maximum level of consensus on the projects carried out across the Balearics. Antich said that he neither foresees a problem with the tax's application, despite the hotel sector refusing to collect the levy, nor the tax having a negative effect on tourism, despite warnings from Spanish and international tourism experts and business leaders. “It's one euro a day and it is for the environment, according to our findings, the majority of people approve,” Antich said. The Balearic president is convinced that the introduction of the tax “will have little significance” on tourism numbers, adding that the local government will be taking steps to make sure visitors paying the levy are fully aware of what the money is for. Balearic Tourism Minister Celesti Alomar repeated his calls to local hoteliers not to cut their prices “the Balearics is a consolidated market” and must remain competitive, he said. “We must not cry about the German market, but diversify,” he said.

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