In Barcelona, where cruise-ship passengers pay the Catalonia top rate of tax - 2.5 euros per day (or stay) plus 10% IVA (VAT) - there is an exemption if the ship is in port for under twelve hours. The government has yet to establish what will be the minimum stay in Balearic ports and so which might mean exemption under what is to be called the Law for the Sustainable Tourism Tax.
90% of ships currently spend over six hours in port (the average is around eight), so six hours may well prove to the minimum; any longer and passengers will be charged the top rate as envisaged under the law, i.e. two euros in high season and one euro in low season. From this, the government would derive some two million euros plus of tax revenue.
There will, though, be exemptions for crew, as they do not occupy tourist accommodation. The responsibility for collecting the tax will be with shipping agents in Balearic ports, but a key issue that it is emerging - not dissimilar to hotels - has to do with bookings already made well in advance. This could mean that cruise operators have to swallow the tax unless they can find a way of charging it to clients who have already made reservations. If not, then there are suggestions that routes might be changed in order to avoid having to incur a tax being described as unjust.
The charge on cruise-ship passengers who come into state-owned ports in the Balearics does raise a further question. What happens (if anything) with yachts that come into Balearic ports, be they state-owned or not?
The latest on the timetable for introducing the tax is that the government appears to be wanting to push the legislation through quickly, with a target date for introduction being 1 May next year, but there is no confirmation of this.