It has recently been announced that the local government in Barcelona is attempting to levy a tax on those who visit the capital of Catalunya even if their stay lasts for no more than a couple of hours.
Official figures report that in 2015, only 8 million out of the 30 million tourists who visited Catalunya stayed in hotels and were therefore subjected to the regional ‘tourism tax’ which cost them between 50 cents and €2.50 per night, depending on the type and location of their accommodation.
Since being introduced back in 2012, the tax has contributed approximately 100 million euros to the regional government’s coffers, taking direct advantage of the fact that around a quarter of all foreign visitors to Spain choose Catalunya as their destination for their stay.
Tourist tax is becoming increasingly common as popular holiday destinations seek a combination of revenue and sustainable tourism; Catalunya isn’t the only region of Spain to have imposed a tax of this nature. A similar scheme has been in place since July this year in the Balearic Islands where overnight stays imply an ‘ecological task’ of between 25 cents and 2 euros per night.
The town hall of Barcelona believes that there is a good reason to target visitors whose stay in the city doesn’t include overnight accommodation. This is a measure that is very likely to affect cruise ship visitors more than any other group as it’s hard to see how those who drive into the city in the morning and leave in the same day could be identified and then charged.
In 2015 the port of Barcelona welcomed 2.5 million cruise passengers, however all of them ‘escaped’ the tourism tax because their accommodation was, of course, on-board the ships that they arrived on.
Councillor, Gala Pin, has stated that tourists are expensive for the city ‘not only in terms of infrastructure, cleaning and security but also in the terms of floating population that is causng indirect explulsion of local people’. Therefore, a motion presented in the Town Hall of Barcelona has received both support and opposition with its rationale being that the income would compensate for the costs to the local administration of laying on tourist services for visitors.
So, what are your thoughts on this news? Are you outraged with the introduction of tax if you’re merely visiting the city on a cruise ship? Or are you in favour of the reasons behind the plan? Leave us your comments!