3 May 2018 – Expansión
Tourists enjoying their holidays on the Balearic Islands awoke on Tuesday to news that isn’t going to completely ruin their fun, but which is certainly going to affect their wallets. The tax that tourists have to pay for each overnight stay on the islands, also known as the eco-tax, had doubled overnight. That was the result of the entry into force of the new tariffs for the Balearic Island Government’s Sustainable Tourism Tax. The increase has been criticised by hoteliers on the islands, which regard it “as frankly wrong, given that any kind of extraordinary tax reduces our competitiveness”, explains María José Aguiló, Executive Vice-President of the Hotel Business Federation of Mallorca (FEHM) in statements to this newspaper.
The government team led by Francina Armengol (PSOE) announced that this new tariff would enter into force from 1 May onwards. Specifically, during the high season, which runs from 1 May until 31 October, any tourist staying in a hotel ranked 4-stars or above will have to pay an eco-tax of €4 per night, which is twice as much as they had to pay during the same period last year (€2) and €3 more than the amount charged during the low season – from 1 November until 30 April.
One of the risks related to the rise is that, with the recovery of other markets in the Mediterranean Arc, such as Egypt and Turkey, the increase in the final cost of each stay will cause tourists to flee to other more competitive destinations.
Although the news is not new – the rise was announced in September last year – it has still surprised many tourists and critics alike, including hoteliers. By mid-morning yesterday, one tourist staying in a hotel in Palma had refused to pay the tax, claiming that he had not been informed about the doubling of the tariff and expressing his doubts over the use that would be made of the funds raised. Although the problem did not go any further – the hotel decided to bear the cost of the tax on this occasion – the situation clearly raises an important issue, relating to the information that is being offered.
Sources close to the Vice-President of the Balearic Government explain that communication efforts have been carried out in the media, as well as through tour operators and trade associations. Nevertheless, hoteliers are asking for a greater push. “Some customers book their trips directly and are unaware of the news”, explains Aguiló, who said that “more specific material” needs to be provided to inform people.
On the other hand, “customers are asking us what this money is being used for”, added Aguiló, which may lead to a reluctance to pay it. For now, they propose that the Government intensifies its communication effort in source markets.
Armengol’s Government expects to raise around €120 million this year through this tax, which will also be applied to tourists who arrive on cruise ships, regardless of how long they stay for – previously, it was only applied to visitors who stayed for more than 12 hours -. The aim, explain Government sources is “to offset tourist pressure and to conserve the eco-system and heritage, so that we can all still enjoy the islands in 10 years time” (…).
Original story: Expansión (by Inma Benedito)
Translation: Carmel Drake