A committee meeting for tourist tax spending decisions. | Archive

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The environmentalists GOB are demanding that the Balearic government no longer uses the tourist tax for tourism promotion purposes. They are also insisting that there is "rigour, citizen participation and transparency" in the process for deciding how revenue from the tax is to be spent. The government, in GOB's view, has adopted an "increasingly lax interpretation" and has "deliberately and repeatedly" ignored participation mechanisms.

GOB argue that "the diversion of funds to purposes other than those established and with a lack of absolute transparency is becoming increasingly clear", and they reject certain proposals, such as one from Palma town hall to promote to digital nomads and influencers, as "crazy". (The town hall has now said that it won't be seeking tourist tax revenue for this.)

They go on to say: "We want the sustainable tourism tax (the official name of the tourist tax) to stop being used to invest in tourism promotion, real estate development and infrastructure that increases the reception capacity of the islands."

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The deadline for submitting proposals for funding from this year's revenue has now passed. The decision-making procedure involves a committee comprising representatives from the government, island councils, town halls, business and unions as well as groups such as GOB, who once walked out of one of these meetings, complaining about the whole process.

GOB have always made clear that they believe that all the revenue should be for environmental projects. These constitute just one of six purposes, which is why "ecotax" is a misnomer. They have also complained, and they haven't been alone, that the tax has become a source of general revenue, while certain decisions have been made in a seemingly unilateral fashion by the government - sponsorship of the Los 40 Music Awards in November last year was a prime example. And that, so the government claimed, was a justified investment in, for instance, promoting low-season tourism.

The government, for its part, has conceded that tourist tax revenue did go to general purposes because of the pandemic, but complaints about this predated Covid.