Spain's Secretary General for Tourism, Juan José Güemes, currently on an official visit to Minorca, said yesterday that the number of tourists who holidayed in the Balearics during the first two months of the year was down 14.7 per cent compared to January and February, 2001. Last night Juan José Güemes met members of the island's tourist industry to discuss the present situation and the tourist tax, which he admitted is not looking very good and that the Balearic government does not appear to have any clear ideas on what it is going to do. “The longer the situation continues like this, the more damage will be done to the Balearic industry,” he said. Ibiza airport is braced for a 20 per cent drop in passengers over Easter, the number of British passengers recorded in January was down by 10 per cent on January last year. Güemes said that the latest hotel occupancy figures for the Balearics indicates that bookings during the first two months of the year were 13.5 per cent lower than 2001. Güemes said that while the government and the Spanish tourist board Turespaña has spent millions of euros on promotional campaigns overseas which appear to be having a positive effect on holiday bookings to the rest of Spain, the Balearics is being held back by the tourist tax issue which over the weekend blew up again in the German media with newspapers condemning the tax.

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