Visitors to Palma this summer have 35 per cent less money than last year, there are 35 per cent less hire cars on the roads, shops sales have fallen by 30 per cent and two million less people will use the airport this year. The municipality of Palma is feeling the effects of the tourism crisis and city councillor for tourism, Joan Bauzá, yesterday blamed the Balearic government for the tourism “disaster”. Bauza said that the tourism crisis is having serious repercussions on the commercial sector and business in the area and “all because of the government's bad policies on tourism.” He said that last month, hotel occupancy along the Playa de Palma was 80 per cent, 15 per cent lower than July last year and, while occupancy for this month is running at around 92, it is still five per cent down on last August. Hotels in the city have experienced a ten per cent drop in business on last year with occupancy currently at around 65 per cent. All the tourism offices claim to de dealing with similar numbers as last year, but Bauza said that on the whole the Playa de Palma is quiet with hoteliers having to drop their prices to attract guests. The city councillor said that on average, Palma hotels have reduced their prices by between “five and ten per cent per person per day.” “The problem is even more serious looking ahead to 2003,” Bauza said. “The tour operators and travel companies will be keen to contract out accommodation at this summer's prices, unaware that the prices are ten per cent below the norm,” he explained. During peak season, Palma normally attracts as many as 70'000 visitors, but this summer, there has been an 18 per cent fall in people visiting the Cathedral and a ten per cent fall in visitors to the Almudania palace. Bauza also claimed that the visitors who are coming have 35 per cent less money. The councillor said that the main reason for the slump in shop sales is the lack of big spending tourists, not the city's mountain of road works as claimed by the capital's commercial organisations and associations. He pointed out that with two million less passengers using Palma airport this year, as many as 1.2 million being tourists, “we're losing out on millions of euros and that's causing a serious crisis,” he said. According to Bauza the city council is doing all it can to try and ease the impact of the crisis. “No one else is making such an important effort,” Bauza said. This year the city council has spent around 18 million euros on promoting tourism trying to make “all” visitors welcome. The secretary of state for Tourism, Juan Costa, admitted yesterday that the tourist tax and local government policy could well be the causes of the crisis in the Balearics. He said all the institutions in the Balearics have got to make a concerted effort to solve the problems. He said two of the keys to success are offering value for money and being able to compete with the other Mediterranean resorts which are already winning at the Balearics' loss.

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