Another top Spanish holiday hotspot considers imposing ‘tourist tax’ in latest blow to Brit travellers after plans for separate EU levy sparked anger
- Former tourism minister Reyes Maroto is running to become mayor of Madrid
- She said she would consider introducing an additional tax for holidaymakers
- A few other regions of Spain have the tax but it is unpopular with hoteliers
Madrid may become the latest holiday destination in Spain to introduce a controversial tourist tax.
Former tourism minister Reyes Maroto is now running to become mayor of the Spanish capital which attracts millions of visitors every year, including tens of thousands of Brits.
She has stirred controversy by suggesting she would consider introducing a tourist tax if elected, a prospect which has already infuriated hoteliers.
Several regions of Spain, including Barcelona and the hugely popular Balearic Islands, have already implemented such a tourism tax which sees holidaymakers pay up to €4 extra per night during their stay.
The additional tariff is seen as a way of raising more capital for those regions, supposedly to be ploughed back into tourism. But hoteliers are strongly opposed to the tax, which they say could discourage holidaymakers concerned about their budgets.
A tourist tax for Madrid was first proposed in 2015 and again in 2018, but never introduced.
Former tourism minister Reyes Maroto could introduce a tourism tax in Madrid if she becomes mayor
Aerial view of Madrid’s La Latina district at sunset
At a recent tourism forum in Madrid, former Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ms. Maroto said: ‘The tourist tax does not have to be merely a tax, it has to be a tax that reverts to the tourism industry.’
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Her comments at the forum were reported by the leading tourism media, Hosteltur.com
The Madrid Hotel Business Association immediately signalled its opposition to the idea, claiming it would directly harm the hotel sector and visitors.
‘Madrid is booming and becoming one of the most desired destinations for national and international tourists with a large hotel investment, without the need for a tourist tax,’ said its president, Gabriel Garcia Alonso.
Many parts of Spain are also considering a new tourist tax. Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, which include Mallorca and Ibiza, implemented the tax in 2012 and 2016, respectively.
In November 2022, Valencia approved the tax which will come into force in December of this year and will range between 0.5 and 2 euros per day depending on the type and category of the accommodation in which people stay.
Galicia and San Sebastian are two other regions of Spain considering introducing a tourist tax.
Because the tax is implemented at a municipal level, it will be up to individual councils in the Valencia region to decide whether they want to levy the tax or not.
Benidorm, a popular destination among Brits, has already declared it will not introduce the extra tariff.
It comes as Spanish hoteliers continue to voice their concern over a proposed EU-wide tax which would see non-EU holidaymakers forced to pay an extra €7 (£6.20) every time they want to visit the continent.
Tourism leaders in the Costa del Sol issued a blistering ‘leave tourism alone’ message in February as fears grow over the proposed tax, with one leading politician calling for the EU to ‘stop meddling’.
The famous Cibeles fountain in Madrid, Spain
READ MORE: Spain warns the EU’s proposed ‘tourist tax’ for Brits is a ‘threat’ to their economy and will see UK holidaymakers go elsewhere
In its general assembly, the Mesa del Tourismo expressed concern about the creation of the new tourist tax for non-EU visitors who enter the Schengen Area.
The European Union could begin to apply this rate from November, under the name of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and would entail the payment of €7 per non-EU tourist.
This would be on top of any local tourist tax in the growing number of Spanish regions which charge €2-5 for each night spent in hotel accommodation.
In a statement on Monday, the board said: ‘[We are] especially concerned about the impact of this EU tax on British tourism, our main issuing market with 18 million arrivals in 2019.
‘It must also be taken into account that the measure – if it goes ahead – will be added to the rest of local taxes that the tourist is already paying to visit certain European cities.’
Francisco Salado, president of Malaga’s provincial council, also spoke out against the EU tax.
‘Leave tourism alone!’ he told a Press conference.
‘Tourism works very well on its own through the sector and the agents involved such as Turismo Costa del Sol and Turismo Andaluz.’
The president of the provincial council of Malaga, pictured, has spoken out against the tax
Talking to journalists, he said tourism was the economic engine of Malaga and Andalusia and criticised the prospective tax.
He added: ‘Stop inventing. Every time we introduce a product, we do it because we improve tourism quality and, in the end, an imposition does not improve the quality.
‘What it does is put a cost on the final product and makes us less competitive.
‘The EU is always inventing how to put new taxes on the municipalities.
‘They legislate up there and we, the city councils and the citizens, pay. I think it is a lack of loyalty that local administrations are not there when making these decisions.’
The ETIAS will apply to visitors from 63 countries – including Britain – outside the European Union. It was first confirmed by the EU in August 2021.
The scheme will be similar to the US’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) system – which allows citizens from 40 countries a 90-day visa-free stay.
Like the US system, the ETIAS will allow people visa-free entry for up to 90 days, during which visitors are not allowed to work or study, but can ‘engage in business and tourism activities,’ according to the Schengen visa info website.
The EU’s version will be valid for up to three years – and will count for multiple entries. Those under 18 and over 70 will be exempt from the fee.
The website states visitors ‘can enter the Schengen member states as many times as you want, for as long as your ETIAS is valid, and you have not stayed more than 90 days in a 180-day period.’
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