Holiday makers looking forward to spending a summer in sunny Spain have been left feeling disgruntled at the prospect of paying up to £70 for a tourist tax. Many UK families had booked their holiday prior to this information coming out, with some knowing nothing about it; only hearing the news on social media. It is feared the tax will put a strain on families planning holidays on a tight budget.
What is the tourist tax and do I have to pay it?
The new duty for sustainable tourism, nicknamed the ‘eco tax’ has been agreed by the Spanish authorities and will come into force from the 1st July. The tourist hot spots of the Balearic Islands covering, Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza are all included in the plans to tax tourists. How much you have to pay depends on your hotel’s star rating and for how long you stay, with a family of four with children being expected to pay up to £70 extra over the fortnight. Unfortunately no one is exempt from the charge as tourists travelling to villas and campsites, even private houses will still need to pay the tax.
Are tourists an easy target?
So why is the charge being imposed? The answer to this depends on whom you listen to; the tax is proving to be a controversial issue leaving many holidaymakers feeling unfairly targeted. Spain has always been a popular holiday destination with the British public, but it is true to say that in recent years many have started holidaying further afield. However with recent terror attacks in Egypt and Tunisia many are returning to Spain for their holidays. The Spanish authorities insist they are not trying to unfairly profit from the rise in bookings to Spain but instead have to impose a tax in order to protect and conserve the fraught Spanish Islands. Tourists undoubtedly put a strain on the Balearic Island’s eco system and Biel Barcelo, vice president of the islands’ coalition government said the tax is ‘absolutely necessary’ to conserve the Balearic archipelago.
A short-term act with long-term consequences?
Spain is desperately dependent on tourists for its income with a large proportion of the country’s jobs firmly grounded in this area. Travel operators fear that the tax could deter families from travelling to Spain, especially during the already expensive summer holiday months. This would be devastating for the Spanish economy and could back fire as a way of providing much needed funds. Of course safe guarding the Islands is of paramount importance but taxing tourists may not be the best way to achieve this.