The gloves are off. The Balearics has issued a letter to Europe’s main travel industry organisations, such as the Association of British Travel Agents in the United Kingdom, to clearly outline and explain the increase in the tourist tax this year, or rather during high season, in response to Greece having also introduced a high season tourist tax, or bed tax, as the Greek tourism authorities have called it, in similar notifications.
The Greek rates are slightly cheaper than here in the Balearics. They do not apply to cruise ships and 10 per cent VAT is not added on top, such as it is here with that 10 per cent going into the coffers in Madrid. In Greece, the tax is nationwide and the reasons for it being introduced by the Greek Ministry of Tourism "is to aim to enhance the State’s revenue in the context of the current fiscal adjustment programme".
There is no mention of the extra funds raised being reinvested in improving and enhancing tourism in the country. In the letter issued by the Balearic Ministry for Tourism the aims and objectives are clearly stated.
First of all, it is underlined that the number of visitors coming to the Balearics every year is increasing and that is putting a greater strain on the environment and, in order to be able to balance this rising impact, the Balearic Government has decided to increase the amount of funds available for sustainable tourism and the bulk of that comes from the tourist tax. The Director General for Balearic Tourism, Antoni Sansó Servera, goes on to explain: "The revenues of the tax are primarily invested in environmental protection projects in order to substantially reduce these impacts and preserve our territory."
In the brief the government points out that of the 30 million euros collected from the tax between July and December of last year, that money allowed the funding of 46 projects, 80 per cent of them being environmental protection and water projects. The remaining 20 per cent was invested in promoting sustainable tourism."
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