Back in September we brought you the news that the Balearic Government was planning to impose a tourist tax on visitors to Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. This has now been voted in and it’s been agreed that the tax will be introduced on 1st July 2016. So if you have a holiday booked after this date, here’s everything that you need to know:
Why is this tax being introduced?
Around 3 million Brits travel to the Balearics each year and tourism bosses on the islands argue that the current number is simply unsustainable. In the past they have looked at other means of capping visitor numbers, and an eco-tax was previously introduced before being scrapped when a new government came into power. This time around the ‘Sustainable Tourism Tax’ looks set to stay and the proceeds will be invested in the islands infrastructure to help enhance their natural resources.
How much will it cost?
The tax ranges from 50 cents per day to €2.00, which roughly equates to £1.50. The exact amount you pay depends on the type of accommodation you’re staying in. Holidaymakers plumping for 5 star or 4 star superior hotels, or 4-key tourist apartments, will pay the top amount of tax, €2.00. Three star superior and four star hotels will charge a daily levy of €1.50, and all other establishments including cruise ships, camp sites and holiday homes will just charge €1. There is a final category for properties that are defined as ‘of tourist character’ but don’t fall into the category of hostel, pension, campsite or refuge, and such places will charge 50 cents a day.
Are these charges applied all year long?
Yes. Although in low season, which falls between November and April, the tax will be cut by 50%.
I have a 2-week break booked. It sounds expensive!
The tax rate is cut by 50% after ten-days on the island, but that might not do much to put your mind at ease. However, Biel Barcélo, the Balearics’ tourism minister has said the average family of four should only expect to see a maximum surcharge of 1.4% on their holiday budget.
Is anyone exempt from the charge?
Children under 16 will be exempt from paying the tax. There are also exclusions for those travelling for work and holidaymakers who are on subsided social vacation programmes.
How will the tax be collected?
It is your accommodation provider’s responsibility to collect the tax from you. This will most likely be at check-out or at the time of booking if you pay up-front.
I’ve already paid for this year’s hotel – will I still have to pay tax?
This will be decided on a hotel-to-hotel basis and is at the discretion of your accommodation provider. There has been some campaigning from hoteliers, cruise ships and tour operators to delay the tax until 2017 to cover bookings that have already been made. However, nothing so far has come of this and although the Majorcan Hoteliers Federation previously said they would expect the hotels to bear the cost, they’ve since backtracked. It’s therefore best to assume you’ll need to pay.
Will this put people off visiting the Balearics?
Steve Campion, Managing Director of Holiday Discount Centre certainly doesn’t think so: “Even with the introduction of this tax, the Balearics will continue to offer great value to British holidaymakers. Travellers to Catalonia, the Spanish region which includes Barcelona, have been paying a similar tax since 2012 and in most cases the price is added to the cost of hotels or package holidays so visitors are largely unaware that it’s even being charged”.
In fact, most places in Europe, from Belgium to Bulgaria, charge visitors a tourist tax, and even holidaymakers to the UK grumble about having to pay our hefty 20% VAT on their hotel rooms. While no one likes the thought of having to pay tax on their time-off, with Malta already following suit and rushing their tourist tax through to come in June, it certainly looks like a tax on tourism is set to become the norm.