14 November 2016 – Cinco Días
The Generalitat de Cataluña, supported by the parliamentary groups CUP and JxSí, is looking to restructure the region’s tourist tax with a law that will accompany the Budget for 2017. It is seeking to modify and increase the tourist tax charged to travellers using hotels, apartments, campsites and cruise ships in the autonomous community.
The aim of the modifications, presented by the Secretary of Finance for the Regional Government, Luis Salvadó, is to generate additional revenues for the Generalitat, amounting to more than €180 million (…). The Government intends to approve the law between the end of this month and the beginning of December, so that the tax changes can come into force from April (2017).
In the case of the tourist tax, the highest increase will affect rental apartments in the city of Barcelona, where the tax will rise by 246%, from €0.65 per night to €2.25 per night. The new fee is equivalent to the rate charged to guests of five star hotels, whose amount will not vary. Meanwhile, clients using tourist apartments in the rest of Cataluña will have to pay €0.90 per day, compared with the current rate of €0.45.
The Association of Tourist Apartments in Barcelona (Apartur) and the Catalan Federation of Tourist Apartments has questioned the legality of this measure, describing it as “discriminatory and meaningless”, given that it charges the same amounts to users of tourist apartments in Barcelona as it does to clients of luxury hotels. The groups have stated that the decision is “disproportionate, unjustified and completely arbitrary” and they expressed their concern that it will only serve to encourage the supply of illegal apartments.
The Chairman of Apartur, Enrique Alcántar, stated that the planned increase in the tax rate for tourist apartments in Barcelona is “complete madness”. According to his calculations, the charge is equivalent to 10% of the total daily price of a stay in a tourist apartment, compared to just 1% of the cost of a stay in a five star hotel.
Through this revision to the regulations, the Generalitat is also seeking to introduce the role of a collection assistant. It wants to turn the technological platforms, such as Airbnb, Homeaway and Booking, which act as intermediaries between owners and travellers, into tax collectors. In addition, it has announced a framework of specific offences and sanctions.
New tax on short-stay cruise passengers
Another new measure is planned, which will affect cruise passengers. Until now, cruise passengers who spent less than 12 hours in Barcelona have not had to pay any kind of tourist tax, but from now on, they will have to pay €0.65. The rate for those spending more than 12 hours in the city remains the same, at €2.25. (…)
Original story: Cinco Días (by L.S.)
Translation: Carmel Drake