How much might the tourist tax in Deya be? | Teresa Ayuga


At the end of this year, a third region of Spain will have a tourist tax. Following the trail blazed by Catalonia and the Balearics (twice, with one tax having been scrapped), Valencia will be joining the ranks.

The Comunitat Valenciana has 542 municipalities, some of which are very small (as low as seventeen inhabitants in one instance) and only four of which are large or very large - the city of Valencia, Alicante, Elche and Castelló de la Plana. In the quite large bracket (in Valencian terms) is Benidorm. With a population of some 70,000, it is larger than Calvia, Mallorca's second largest municipality, and the municipality of Ibiza by around 20,000.

As far as the Valencia tourist tax is concerned, Benidorm, given the number of tourists it attracts, should be a gold mine. In 2019, Benidorm was fourth in Spain in terms of overnight stays in various types of tourist accommodation - 16.2 million; only Madrid, Barcelona and San Bartolomé de Tirajana (Gran Canaria) had more. Yet Benidorm, unless there is a swing at the May election, is most unlikely to have the Valencia tourist tax.

It will be up to individual municipalities whether they apply the tax or not. Benidorm's mayor is Antonio Pérez. He has specific responsibility for tourism, he is a member of the Partido Popular and he has said that he will not adopt the tax. In the city of Valencia, on the other hand, its mayor is Joan Ribó. For him, the tax is "essential", given the increase in costs for the likes of security and cleaning. These and many other things should not only have to be paid for by the citizens but also by others who are responsible for this increase - tourists, in other words.

Ribó is a member of Compromís, an entity not dissimilar to Més in Mallorca. Compromís and Podemos form two-thirds of the government of the Comunitat Valenciana; PSOE is the other third and the major party. The coalition is therefore like that of the Balearic government, and tourist tax advocacy has also been somewhat similar.

Whatever might now be thought or indeed was thought at the time, Francina Armengol's PSOE in the Balearics were never that keen on the tourist tax. They basically had to accept its introduction in 2016 as a condition of coalition government; Més were adamant that there had to be a tourist tax (Podemos weren't formally part of the coalition then).

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In Valencia, the PSOE president of the Comunitat is Ximo Puig. As recently as last May, he was insisting that it was not the right time to bring in a tourist tax. That this has now been approved by the parliament in Valencia owes much to horse-trading for setting the budgets. The tourism secretary, more or less the tourism minister, is Francesc Colomer (of PSOE). He has always been against the tax. He still is and continues to state his opposition.

So, you have a situation whereby the major party has effectively been bounced into accepting something it didn't want and with a senior political figure, in theory responsible for the tax, dead against it. And moreover, you have the fact that the tax is voluntary, which is why Benidorm says no but Valencia says yes. In addition, a municipality will be at liberty to increase the standard rates, which range from 50 cents to two euros per night per person depending on the ratings of accommodation. All a town hall will need to do is pass the relevant ordinance.

One does accept that local municipal taxes on stays have existed for years in countries like France and Germany and that they do vary. But not in Spain, where it will now be the case in the Comunitat Valenciana that 542 municipalities will either have a tax or won't have a tax, a seemingly unnecessary confusion - additional confusion on top of the different rates plus VAT.

The rates, it has to be said, aren't particularly onerous, so the region's tourism industry shouldn't fret too much, especially if Benidorm remains tax-free. Unlike Mallorca when the tax was introduced in 2016, the British media will not be able to revel in 'big Brit tax rip-off' or some such nonsense.

But then there are questions as to how the revenue will be spent and where. The tax agency in the region will be responsible for supervising collection, so the revenue will be the government's to spend, as it has been said, on offsetting the costs of tourism to public services. Where? Presumably not in Benidorm.

To give a feel for this voluntary application, let's just imagine what might happen in Mallorca. In the Llucmajor part of Arenal, the PP wouldn't have it, but José Hila's pact at Palma town hall would ensure that the Palma part would. Nip across the municipal border from PSOE-led Calvia to PP-led Andratx and tourists there wouldn't be paying it. Or they might be if the administration had yet to change local ordinance; the PSOE mayor was booted out following a vote of no confidence a few months back.

Travel up the Tramuntana to the bailiwick of Lluis Apesteguia in Deya, and the leader of Més in Mallorca would not only apply the tax, he would quadruple the rates. There's voluntary for you.