SPAIN'S Tourism Board called on Central Government yesterday to lower value added tax on customer bills in bars and restaurants as a last-ditch attempt to boost visitor spending in businesses related to the tourist industry.
The Board pointed out that the French government had taken the initiative at the beginning of this month by lowering VAT in such establishments from 19.6 percent to 5.5 percent. Board President Juan Andres Melian said that the French strategy had proved successful with tourists eating out more in France as a result of the drop in the final bill. Melian said the Board had spent several months persuading the Spanish government to make legislative changes so that tourism could once again become the driving force behind the national economy. He claimed that if the industry could re-emerge as a major economic success, it could also be a principal factor in helping Spain out of the current recession. It was not just the food and drink sector where the Board was urging reform. It also wants to see airport taxes come down, moves made to promote Spanish travel agencies and to stimulate employment in the tourist industry as a whole.