TAX STAYS, CRISIS OR NOT

THE Iraq crisis and the worsening German economic situation are not good enough reasons for the Balearics to temporarily lift or even scrap the tourist tax, said Balearic President Francesc Antich. Antich yesterday ruled out lifting the levy despite the international crisis, which is having a clear and direct affect on Balearic holiday bookings, and forecast of another poor holiday season for the region. Antich said, during a visit to Barcelona for a meeting with leader of the Catalan government, Jordi Pujol, that the government does not believe in back-tracking “on a project designed to improve quality not quantity.” Antich was forced to admit however that the Balearics has suffered the effects of the September 11 attacks and that bookings are now being effected by international uncertainty caused by the Iraqi crisis. But the performance of the British holiday market appears to have boosted Antich's spirits, “the British market is doing very well, the French and Italian are improving, although the German market is having the most difficulties because of the country's economic situation,” he said. Antich, in response to his critics in the opposition Partido Popular, said that last year, the Balearics posted the best holiday accommodation occupancy figures, although he did not add that the Balearics posted the biggest drop in holidaymakers in Spain last year, while the rest of the country experienced an increase in visitors.

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