The Balearic minister for tourism, Biel Barcelo, is behind the tax. | DE

7

The Balearic government is due to approve the final draft of its law for the sustainable tourism tax at Friday’s cabinet meeting. This final version, to be taken to parliament for approval, shows some changes from the original; these being in response to over forty observations and suggestions from different sources - the island councils, town halls, business associations and other sectors affected by the introduction of the tax.

The main modifications to the original relate to the age of the person paying the tax; to the definition of the starting-point of the main tourism season for the purposes of the tax; to discounts depending on length of stay; and the use of tax revenue in rural areas.

Specifically, the age of exemption for paying the tax is to rise from 14, as set out in the original, to 16 (and this includes 16-year-olds). The government says that this is to not damage family tourism, which has increased notably because of instability in other destinations. This age rise puts the tax on the same footing as Catalonia’s.

The season will now bedefined as starting on 1 May. The original had stated 1 April, but the change has been made, it is said, in order that the Easter period will always be excluded from the full rate of the tax, which will therefore apply from 1 May until the end of October. In the low season - November to April - the tax will be reduced by 50%. There is to now also be a 50% reduction from the tenth day of a stay, reasons for this apparently also being to promote family tourism and longer stays. It might be noted that in Catalonia there is no charge after seven days.

On rural use, there is a shift in emphasis from what the original had to say about recovery and conservation of the environment to financing modernisation of agroforestry.

As to charges, it would seem that three-star and four-star hotel accommodation will attract a rate of 1.5 euros per tourist per day, with two euros being applied to five-star. Cruise ship passengers will be charged one euro, as will apartments for tourist use, if and when these are actually made legal. The government hopes to have the bill passed as soon as possible, with 1 May being the target date for its introduction.