The Consell Assessor de Turisme (CAT), Tourism Advisory Board, held its first meeting yesterday to start debating which will be the first projects funded by the new tourist tax. After swiftly rejecting a motion tabled by the Partido Popular to abolish the tax, the board was instructed that it has a month to decide on the first tourist tax funded projects. the controversial tax is still on course for a May 1 introduction. Balearic Minister for Tourism, Celesti Alomar, told the 34-strong board, that he wants the first projects to be “symbolic, so that the Balearic community can immediately see the benefits the tax will bring and so that visitors can see how hard we are working at changing the tourism model and improve their holidays.” Alomar explained that CAT has been set up to advise on promoting tourism and all issues related to the development of tourism in the Balearics. All sectors of the tourist industry have been calling for an independent advisory body to set up for years and the 34-strong board includes representatives from the various ministries, insular councils, unions, tourist boards and the private sector. Alomar said that as yet he had heard nothing from the hotel sector, adamantly opposed to the tax and taking legal action to block the tax. In the meantime he and the government intend to push ahead with the tax and discussing how the money raised, an estimated 108 million euros per year, will be best spent. In principle, the money will be used for the improvement of tourist resorts and the protection and management of the environment.

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