Barceló celebrating the approval of the tax.


As expected, the Balearic parliament yesterday approved the legislation by which the tourist tax will be introduced on 1 July. Though opposed by the Partido Popular and Ciudadanos (C's), there was never any doubt that approval would be given, once a compromise had been reached last week between the government and Podemos on contentious amendments, such as the use of tax revenue for care homes for the elderly. (This has been dropped.)

For PSOE, there was a recognition, expressed by one of its deputies, Andreu Alcover, that the tax had been delivered after a "labour with some pain". But all involved with negotiations on the final draft (i.e. the government and Podemos) were to be congratulated. Pilar Costa of PSOE had said something similar prior to the vote. "We can be congratulated" for the tax's approval, one of the government's stellar projects.

The PP and the C's, in opposing the legislation, argued that it will harm low-season tourism and not improve Balearic competitiveness. Both parties had wanted a delay in its introduction until 1 January 2017. Marga Prohens, the PP's spokesperson had earlier said: "It is a tax to balance the government's accounts." It was one, she added, that had been developed with haste and as an imposition.

Biel Barceló, the tourism minister, expressed his satisfaction. He said that there had been "broad consensus" for what - the approval - had been a "challenge" in gaining acceptance of most of the amendments put forward.

Barceló said that the situation now is very different to that in 2002 when the old eco-tax was introduced. It was scrapped in 2003 when there was a change of government (to one led by Jaume Matas of the PP). "Now there is great acceptance by society and also parliament, while tourist businesses know that in much of Europe similar taxes apply."

Alberto Jarabo for Podemos said that with the tax "the islands are a little bit more ours". This was because "we have been wrongly accustomed to having to pay for hoteliers and tourists to use natural resources of the island".

"The islands are today more those of maids, of waiters, of farmers and of all the people of the Balearics who will never have to pay again for that which they don't do."