This winter's tourist season is “the worst in history” according to the Deputy Mayor of Palma and councillor for tourism, Joan Bauza. Bauza's outburst yesterday has been fuelled by the fact that there are just 28 hotels open along the Playa de Palma “and the only clients are pensioners on subsidised Imserso holidays because there are absolutely no other kinds of holidaymakers.” Bauza, who just two years ago claimed that three million people a year visited the city, said yesterday that Palma does not need handouts from the tourist tax, which the city council voted against, but a “well thought out and long term investment plan.” “We thank the government that it has thought of us, but we were the only council in Majorca to reject the tourist tax,” Bauza said and the Partido Popular, as well as the tourist industry in general, still maintains that one of the reasons for the tourism slump is the tourist tax. The hotel sector has already decided that it does not intend re-opening again until April and Easter because of the poor winter bookings and the very slow spring and summer holiday sales. Some resorts are completely closed this winter, despite the Balearic government's big push two years ago to try and boost winter tourism. However, many of the hotels that were persuaded to remain open, lost substantial amounts of money and this winter a record number of hotels are closed. In the United Kingdom, some tourism experts say that the holiday market is already starting to see the impact on sales of the potential threat of war in Iraq - but there are still 55 flights per week from the UK to Palma, for example, and winter airport figures have been relatively high so far, but those travelling are either second home owners or residents. They are certainly not long weekenders as letters to the Bulletin have clearly indicated, many people have been angered by the fact that many of the shops close for the weekend at Saturday lunchtime.

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