The controversial tourist tax today comes to the end of its first week in existence and the Balearic Minister for Tourism, Celesti Alomar, yesterday hailed its introduction a success. Alomar said that the past seven days have passed off as “normal” with no incidents reported from hotels. The vast majority of the main hotel chains have decided to cover the cost of the tax themselves, asking clients to sign over power of attorney to the hotel should the opportunity arise for the Balearic hotel sector to claim for its money back for the tax paid to the Balearic government. In return hotel clients are being given free and discount drink vouchers on arrival and a mass refund very much depends on the tax's success in the Madrid courts. Twenty seven per cent of the hotel sector, mainly the independent and the five star hotels, are directly charging the tax, 33 per cent are collecting the tax but compensating the client while 40 per cent of hotels are covering the cost of the tax themselves. The Minister said that as many of the hoteliers signed new contracts with tour operators without accounting for the tourist tax “they've now got to cover the costs themselves.” Alomar said that 84 per cent of Balearic residents support that tax and 73 per cent of Germany tourists favour the levy. However German holiday bookings were down 3.2 per cent during the first four months of the year and, on the year, the number of German tourists will be down by at least five per cent, according to local government figures. Alomar denied that the tax is to blame for the drop in tourism to the Balearics, he said that the post September 11 nerves in the global tourist industry has not helped nor have economic problems in countries such as Germany. The Minister believes that the Balearics have set an important precedent with the tax and an example with other regions of Spain and Europe will follow. This morning Alomar will announce the first projects which are to be carried out with some of the 30 million euros the tourist tax is expected to raise every year to help protect and preserve the environment.

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