The battle-scarred hoteliers, still smarting over the tourist tax, have called on the central government to help the sector remodel itself with the focus being on the quality tourism market. The Spanish association of resort hotels, Zontur, yesterday held its annual general assembly and there are concerns that the country's two main markets, Britain and Germany have this summer reduced the number of beds in Spain. The hotel industry needs to fill the gaps left by an eight per cent cut back by German tour operators and the British share of the market being down-sized from 43 per cent to 39 per cent this year. In comparison to the first three months of last year, in January to March, there was a 19 per cent fall in British bookings for Spanish holidays although since then there has been a sharp increase and demand is tipped to outstrip last year. However, with bookings being made so late this year, the hotel sector is uncertain about the summer ahead and believes that the time has come to establish a new, solid quality market which will bring an end to the growing annual summer jitters. Zontur says that with regards to the Spanish tourist industry in general, it is suffering at the hands of “aggressive” promotional campaigns mounted by competitors. In particular Turkey and Egypt where the governments are helping to subsidise the tourist industry. The association unanimously agreed that the tourist tax “is a serious mistake” and will have a very negative effect on “sun and beach” holidays. The President of the Majorcan Hotel Federation, Pedro Cañellas, said that the tax has nothing to do with trying to reduce pollution, but rather the government is thinking purely about money which it will make at a cost to local businesses. But the Balearic government have made it clear that there will be no delay and yesterday announced that it has launched a campaign to inform all the region's hoteliers about the tax, how and when they will have to pay it. Special information hot lines have been set up on each island and questions can also be either faxed or e-mailed to a central information point.

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