Will the tourist tax really threaten Palma's cruise stopovers? | Gabriel Alomar

The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) has presented a submission to the Balearic government regarding the regional budget for 2018. The association is specifically concerned with the application of the tourist tax to all cruise ships as from the start of next year. It is asking for the tax not to be applied, claiming that to do so would be contrary to law. It would be questionable in terms of constitutionality, be a violation of the principle of equality enshrined in the Spanish Constitution and also be discriminatory. The submission it has made to the government, which will probably go unheeded, is likely to open the way to an appeal for judicial review.

The CLIA is the largest cruise association in the world and represents the whole of the cruise industry operating in the Mediterranean and in Europe. There are forty-five member companies. These include ones that are regular users of Balearic ports, such as Aida, Carnival, Costa, Royal Caribbean and Tui.

The association is making clear that the tourist tax may well result in Balearic ports being dropped from cruise itineraries. Because of the tax, the Balearics will "cease to be a competitive destination for the cruise industry". The tax will be a financial factor for passengers but it will also influence cruise operators, which may well choose to stop over instead at ports where there is no tax.

Increased stability and security in the eastern Mediterranean, the CLIA adds, will mean cruise operators looking more favourably on ports that have been avoided in recent years. Balearic ports, as with tourism in general, have benefited from the instability, but as this is now less of an issue, the competitiveness of Balearic ports is threatened because of the imposition of the tax.

Just a few days ago, a report was presented which highlighted the economic benefit of cruise shipping to the Balearics. The direct benefit was put at 128 million euros per annum.