‘Tourist tax’ proposal slammed by hoteliers
An inevitable explosion of indignation has been heard from the offices of the Portuguese Hotels Association and the Algarve’s regional hoteliers’ trade body over the proposal by the region’s mayors to introduce a ‘tourist tax.’
The Associação de Hotelaria de Portugal says that the mayors’ planned introduction of the tourist tax across all the region’s council areas, is “inopportune and inappropriate when considering the competition from other tourist destinations and in taking into account the reduction in British tourists.”
Expressing surprise and concern at the decision, the national association stresses, “the fact that the Algarve is a very seasonal destination and that longer stays in hotels, compared to urban destinations, will oblige hoteliers to raise their prices, especially in low season.”
The association said the mayors’ decision, with the notable exeption of Silves, whose mayor did not go to the crucial March 9th meeting, “was taken without any consultation with the hotel industry. This demonstrates a total lack of knowledge of the reality of the sector “.
The Association of Hotels and Tourist Enterprises in the Algarve, also has expressed its opposition to the imposition of the ‘tourist tax’ with many of its members claiming the tax is illegal and that the mayors are simply ‘shooting themselves in the foot.’
One of the weaknesses in the mayors proposal is the use that any tax revenue will be put to, with Jorge Botelho, mayor of Tavira and AMAL’s chairman, stating weakly, “”it will certainly be to the benefit of the region and the development of the Algarve council areas,” including the support of “culture, combating seasonality and promoting the quality of the Algarve” – aspects of tourism that the regional tourist authority already is funded for and fully engaged in.
Another claim by Botelho is that tax revenue will be used for a local commerce support fund to “revitalise downtown commercial areas” and launch ‘Comércio Algarve’ as a new brand as well as organising events, creating free parking and improving