It has recently been reported that a tax of between €1-2 per day will be levied on all tourists visiting the Balearic islands – Formentera, Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca – from 2016, although how the new ‘eco-tax’ will work in practice is still being fleshed out. This essentially means additional costs for those who haven’t planned ahead and included this added extra into their travel budget. Admittedly, this may not seem like a lot to pay, but it does make us stop and wonder whether this is only the start of increasing travel costs in the near future.
If introduced, authorities are likely to place a limit on the overall amount tourists have to pay, possibly only charging them for the first part of their visit. It is still unclear whether the tax will be levied at hotels – as in Barcelona – or at airports and ports as happens elsewhere.
According to the local tourism authority, any revenue from the levy would be directed to preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the islands, as well as to the improvement of local infrastructure. As a popular tourist destination, it is understandable that money must be spent on maintaining its natural beauty, but the question from many will be whether this has any noticeable impact on people visiting or whether they are simply paying an extra charge for background maintenance.
It’s thought that roughly 3.4 million Brits visited the Balearics last year, but not all would have to pay the ‘eco-tax’ were it to be brought in. On top of limiting the number of nights for which visitors would have to pay, exemptions are likely to include children and pensioners. There may also be some seasonal variation in rates, which begs the question of whether people will avoid this by simply choosing to travel during off-peak months.
While local authorities stress that the charge is designed to fund investment in the islands’ infrastructure for both tourists and locals, ABTA (the British Association of Travel Agents) is less confident, pointing to introduction of a similar tax in 2002 and its prompt withdrawal a year later. The reversal came after a significant reduction in tourism numbers, something which it can only be assumed isn’t a concerning factor this time round.
On its website, ABTA expressed concerns and said that such a tax would ‘only have the unintended consequence of driving tourists away from the islands’ again. The feeling is that the tax would make the Balearic islands more expensive than other European destinations which don’t impose any levies on tourists, such as Turkey and Portugal.
Steve Campion, Managing Director of Holiday Discount Centre, said: ‘While we have our doubts about the economic wisdom of introducing an “eco-tax”, we are confident that the Balearics would continue to offer good value for money for British holidaymakers.’
There are many other European countries and cities that levy tourist taxes on visitors besides Catalonia and – potentially – the Balearic islands. This is an established cost and often added to hotel or package holiday prices so that in many cases, travellers may not even realise they’re paying it. Checking ahead before you travel will ensure you’re not caught out with any extra costs.
As they stand, the Balearic islands are enormously popular with British holidaymakers and this is unlikely to change in the near future! If all this talk of holidaying has left you craving some winter sun – it’s not too late to book a winter break! Take a look at some of the best deals around, starting at just £95pp this October 2015.