Curiously named the ‘ECOTAX’ the new Balearic councilor for tourism Barcelo Biel has categorically stated that the implementation of the tax will happen in 2016 “with or without the help of central government in Madrid” and that it is “absolutely necessary to improve the long term competitiveness of the islands”. He has also announced that the tax will be between 1 or 2 euros per person per night but with no other information available it has left the tourist community of the 4 Balearic Islands scratching their collective heads and speculating about the details.
This is a repeat of 2002 when a 1 euro per person per night tax was introduced to legal tourist establishments but it proved to be short lived and was quickly abolished by the new administration after the next elections.
The Hotel Federation of Ibiza and Formentera has denounced the proposed tax although it’s president Juanjo Riera acknowledged that Ibiza has an ‘infrastructure deficit’ and that “money is needed” but the Balearic government must “go and ask Madrid for improved funding, not seek solutions by increasing the tax burden”. Sr Riera has also refused to help explain the tax to the wider tourism market saying ‘it’s your idea so it’s your responsibility’.
Tour operators, who themselves are under pressure, have also come out against the tax, Steve Heapy, boss of rapidly growing Jet2 Holidays, waded into the debate by saying that the tax would “increase the cost of holidays” and have a “detrimental effect on Balearic Tourism”.
The ecotax issue has been rumbling for years however the problems remain the same:
1. who pays?
2. when do they pay?
3. how do they pay?
4. where do they pay?
The only thing we do know is ‘why’ and that is hotly debated with many questioning why the regions most important commodity, namely tourists, are having to pay a tax for the privilege of visiting the islands.
Like many, the Hotel Federation suspect that it will be a repeat of 2002 when the only tourists who paid the tax were those at legal and licensed hotels meaning that those staying with friends and family or in unlicensed accommodation such as private houses or apartments avoided paying a penny. Hardly a fair system and making it more of a hotel tax than a tourist tax. Councilor Biel has also said that all tourists will be liable to pay including Spanish residents.
So as we wait for more details we can only speculate as to how the new socialist/left wing Balearic government plan to implement the new tax. Unless there is a major U-Turn it will happen but just like 13 years ago it’s clearly still a divisive policy that will create lots of debate and it will be impossible to keep everyone happy.