Alarm bells are ringing in the Balearic tourist and commercial sectors with businesses yesterday repeating their calls for the local government to withdraw the tourist tax. The Chamber of Commerce for Majorca, Ibiza and Formentera, hotel federations, the Majorcan Tourist Board, airlines, leading hotel chains and travel companies held crisis talks yesterday and warned that, unless the Balearic leader Francesc Antich takes evasive action, the region is facing a serious crisis, with a 40 per cent drop in holiday bookings. Delegates at the business summit agreed that the creation of a foundation for the protection of the environment is a good idea, but criticised the inopportune and discriminatory character of the tourist tax and the Balearic government's negative attitude to the tourist industry. The business community wants the tax, which will only apply to 60 per cent of tourists, to be withdrawn and that the government invest “all available resources in a special promotional campaign to combat the crisis the Balearics are facing.” Delegates at the summit also wants to see the Ministry for Tourism accounts. President of the Confederation of Balearic Business Associations, Josep Oliver, said the government is being “insensitive.” The one per cent drop in hotel bookings last season represented a loss of 90 million euros he said. “We want to take action to resolve the situation, but the government is only putting obstacles in our way, like the tourist tax,” Oliver added, pointing out that a five per cent fall in business in the tourist sector this season will mean the Balearics will lose 4'200 million euros in income. President of the Majorcan Tourist Board, Miguel Vicens, said that the drop in bookings is being caused by the international crisis and the “arrogant attitude” of the local government. Vicens warned that the rejected 18'700 summer take off and landing slots at Palma airport, means 9'350 less flights, each with an average capacity for 300 passengers, which therefore translates in to three million less tourists.

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