Cruise ship stays included in Balearics tourist tax proposals

MSC Splendida and me in Majorca.

The Balearic government has proceeded with plans to introduce a daily tourist eco-tax, including charges for passengers on cruise ships in its draft proposals.

The islands’ vice-president and tourism minister, Biel Barceló, told a parliamentary hearing last month that it would apply a tourist tax in 2016 and the government has now drawn up formal proposals.

There is concern among the trade that the tax will drive visitors away from the Balearics.

Stays on cruise ships moored in any of the islands’ ports; hotels; hostels; campsites; and holiday homes will all be taxed, should the proposals be approved.

Those staying on cruise ships will be charged €2 per day in high season, along with those staying in hotels rated above four-star.

Lesser taxes will be applied to those staying in lower grade hotels and most apartments, the tax will be halved in low season and children aged under 14 will be exempt.

“This represents a maximum surcharge of no more than 1.4% of the respective holiday budget,” said Balearic president Francina Armengol.

A decision on the tax will be made by the Commission for Sustainable Tourism, which will be founded if the tax is passed through parliament. This is expected to take place in the second quarter of 2016.

Mr Barceló said: “With the help of these revenues we will be able to maintain and improve the quality of tourism services in the islands.

“We ask our visitors for a small contribution to protect and preserve this little paradise formed by four islands.”

The tax will also be levied to locals who stay in tourist accommodation.

The government said the revenue generated by the tax will be invested in environmental protection, sustainable tourism, the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage, improvement of infrastructure in tourist areas as well as in research, training and development in the tourism sector.

The islands, which attract almost 3.5 million visitors from the UK each year, scrapped a similar tax in 2003 just one year after it was introduced, because it was deterring holidaymakers.

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