May 1 will mark the launch of the tourist tax, but it is also the official start of the summer season and there is still plenty of work to be done in the Balearics to get the region ship shape. The widespread damage done to the coast and resorts by a winter of storms and torrential rain have not helped preparations, but Spain's Environment Minister, Jaume Matas, made it clear in the wake of last November's hurricane, that he wants all tourist resorts ready by May 1 and all damage repaired. Bulldozers and council workers are busy clambering over the Balearics beaches like ants and those holidaymakers grabbing some early sunshine are having to share the beaches in some areas with piles of rubbish, mountains of sea weed and huge chunk of pipes which have yet to be laid on the sea bed. In some areas beaches are having to be literally re-built with sand being imported from other areas, much to the environmentalists' despair, to provide the millions of Balearic visitors with their summer playgrounds. Gradually the sun shades and sun loungers are being stacked up along the promenades, ahead of being distributed along the beaches for May 1. All the sea front bars and shops, the majority of which have been closed for the quiet winter, are being given a good airing for their first clients of the new tourist season. For some businesses it is going to be a gamble as the summer season may still take a while to kick off, just like last year.

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