With time running out, it appears that the Balearic government is finally going to make its decision on when the tourist tax will be introduced this week following concessions from leading tour operators. Over the past two days at the Berlin International Trade Fair, while the hoteliers have been ducking and diving, industry chiefs, including the chairman of the International Federation of Tour Operators, IFTO, Martin Brackenbury, and the Balearic government have gotten a grip on the situation and started to make headway in reaching an amicable solution. The tour operators have agreed to include the tourist tax in their winter brochures and German tour operators have gone as far as including a welcome letter from Balearic President Antich in their brochures for the winter season 2002/2003. In return however, the tourist industry hopes that this week the Balearic government will agree to hold the tax back until November. IFTO made it clear to Antich that its members want an end to the conflict over the tax and also want to see the levy postponed in order to give struggling holiday bookings the best chance possible to recover, which is obviously to the benefit of tour operators and primarily the Balearics. Antich was expected to meet local hoteliers for a second round of talks on tourism bookings figures and the tax, but the IFTO boss is expected to arrive in Palma today, hot on the heels of Antich, for follow-up talks to their meeting in Berlin on Monday night and the government may well announce its final decision on the tax today. If not, a definite decision can be expected this week. Antich said in Berlin yesterday “at times like these, which are vital for the future of tourism, we've got to be patient. “We've got to re-establish negotiations (referring to the hoteliers' still negative stance) and ensure that the hoteliers, tour operators and the government work together.” “All this controversy is not helping anyone,” he added. But as far as the government is concerned, the tourist tax will become a reality, even if it is later that initially planned. “It will be applied and each one will have to do what one sees fit to defend one's own interests. The most important thing is to end the controversy and work together,” government sources said yesterday.

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