Expatica news

Catalonia considerstax on tourists

12 August 2004

MADRID – Catalonia’s tourism chief said on Thursday he is considering the possibility of a new tax on tourists to help fund improvements in the region’s holiday infrastructure.

The scheme could be similar to the so-called ecotax used in the Balearic Islands – involving a daily charge on accommodation – which was scrapped  by the conservative Partido Popular (PP) when it won the regional elections there last year.

Catalonia’s tourism counsellor Josep Bargalló said he was in favour of a  tax that would help improve the quality of services. The classic formula of cheap sun and beach holidays was now “saturated” and Catalonia had to steer itself towards higher quality tourism

While a Balearics-style ecotax was not in the Catalonia regional government’s current programme, he said he favoured such a scheme to help town halls fund the necessary changes.

“Recently I was in an African country where I had to pay 25 dollars to enter and 25 dollars to leave, and that just for a week’s stay,” he said.

“That’s much more money than the ecotax they were charging in the Balearic Islands.”

“Either we recognise that some towns are tourist towns and the state finances them, not only based on the number of inhabitants but also the number of visitors they receive, or we have to give them an alternative solution.”

“To me what the Balearics government did, charging one euro a day to people who went there on holiday, was neither incorrect nor exaggerated.”

Bargalló said that the PP’s claim that the Balearics ecotax had resulted in a fall in foreign tourist numbers was “a lie, because without it their numbers would have still kept falling”.

He said it would be “unjust” for a resort’s inhabitants to pay for these special services as many of them made their living from other industries.

The real crisis the tourism industry is currently suffering is “a crisis of growth”, he added, as more and more buildings were built along the coast.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news