Ecotax for Spanish tourist islands moves a step nearer
The government of Spain’s Balearic Islands has approved a bill to tax tourists for every night they stay in Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza or Formentera.
Although the islands are currently the number one destination for German and British tourists, with the booming holiday industry making the Balearics the richest province in Spain with the highest per capita income, the islands’ infrastructure and environment are under severe pressure. Last summer, for example, reservoirs were at their lowest level for 40 years necessitating the import of fresh water from the mainland.
If now ratified by Spain’s Constitutional Tribunal, the eco-tax could affect more than nine million tourists who visit the four Mediterranean islands each year. Visitors to hotels, camping grounds, apartments and holiday homes will have their bills increased by between 0.25 euros (£0.15) and 2.0 euros (£1.25) a night. The proposed tax has been unpopular with hoteliers, environmental groups and also with Spain’s central government, which is committed to introducing tax cuts.
The islands’ environmental group, Grup Balear d’Ornitologia i Defensa de la Naturalesa, (GOB) is in favour of an ecotax, but wants it to be levied at airports and ports and varied according to the season, with the aim of stabilising the number of visitors over the year. The Balearic Government originally proposed to charge the tax at the point of entry, but changed the basis of the tax due to pressure from airport authorities and locals who were not exempt from the tax.
Hotel owners are planning to boycott contacts with the Balearic Government in protest against the responsibility for collecting the new tax which has been imposed on them. Federación Empresarial Hotelera de Mallorca (FEHM) and the Ibizan equivalent say that tour companies will not pass a price increase onto their clients and consequently, the burden of both collecting and paying the tax will fall onto hotel owners. They are also unhappy that the tax will not affect visitors who rent apartments or holiday homes for longer than a month.
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