Balearic union leaders rubbished claims of a regional tourism crisis yesterday, accusing the Partido Popular and the tourist industry in general of massaging the figures while blaming any drop in bookings on the Iraqi crisis. “Last year, we were all talking the same story, but hotel occupancy was up, which is why the forecasts given by the tour operators and the PP are not credible and we have to remember that business is interested in a change of Balearic government,” said the secretary general of the UGT general workers' union, Manuel Pelarda. “The figures just don't add up,” he said. As far as the UGT is concerned, the reason behind the alleged tourism crisis, is neither the tourist tax nor the government's tourism policies “but the three leaders who have lost their minds, Bush, Blair and Aznar,” he added. Josep Benedicto, the CC.OO workers' commission boss, said that it is vital for the good of the Balearic tourist industry and the European economy that there is no military intervention in Iraq. “It's true, bookings are down and we are seeing increasing concern over jobs within the unions, but the figures do not point to a catastrophe,” he said. There is also concern over the recent announcement by hoteliers that they are going to postpone their opening dates until bookings pick up. Union bosses said that many hoteliers can only delay opening by a maximum of 30 days in accordance with employment contracts.

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