With less than two weeks remaining before the tourist tax will be introduced, Balearic Minister for Tourism Celesti Alomar said yesterday that the tax will be a catalyst for change in the region's “tired” tourist industry. Alomar, speaking at the Balearic University about the region's model for tourism, stressed the need for the current “seasonal” model has peaked and that it has to be changed. Alomar said that the region's tourist industry has been “going in the same direction” for far too many years and that it now needs to set out in a different direction for the future. The Minister said that a large majority of society and politicians in Majorca have no doubts that the present model for tourism is running out of steam, taking its toll on the islands and that new ideas and policies are needed. Alomar explained that the tourist sector accounts for 84 per cent of the Balearics' Gross National Product. He said that bucket and spade tourism which the region has offered to the masses since the 50*s no longer meets the demand for quality tourism. It also fails to generate sufficient money to meet the high costs of developing and maintaining the infrastructure needed to accommodate mass tourism in a region of limited resources. Alomar is adamant that the Balearics needs to take some form of immediate action and one of the principal aims is to decentralise the industry, promote the low season months while improving the environment and the infrastructure, the latter of which will primarily be funded by money raised from the tourist tax. Alomar said yesterday that the government has approved a new Balearic rehabilitation fund in to which all the tourist tax money will be invested. Balearic President Francesc Antich said yesterday that he is pleased that the “tension” over the tourist tax has subsided, adding that the tourist industry needs the tourist tax. Antich said that his government “has channelled all its energy and vision into making sure the tourist tax is introduced as effectively and smoothly as possible and that the money raised is used as soon as possible.” The Ministry for Tourism is already studying around 100 initiatives which could be funded by the tax and all relate to the environment, the protection of listed buildings and the conservation of the countryside. Antich said that one of the projects, being studied by the Environment Ministry, is the construction of a new water supply network in Majorca which would carry water from one side of the island to the other.

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