Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Tax Isn't For A Lifetime

As we stumble ever on, still not getting clarity from the government over the tourist tax, the voices of discontent grow louder. The meeting at the tourism ministry this week revealed just how great the opposition from business is: only one association - Aptur, the holiday apartments' association - lining up behind Pilar Carbonell, the tourism director-general. There is other business support, which was not represented at that meeting, but it is minimal.

This was the first occasion on which Carbonell went publicly head to head with Inma Benito of the hoteliers. Both of them charming, they are both also determined to stand their ground, and in Carbonell's case, it has been suggested that minister Barceló chose her for the position precisely because she would lock horns with the hoteliers and Benito. She had, after all, previously headed up the restaurants' association.

Benito was clever in making the link between the tax and the government's need for general revenues and in therefore asking that the tax be scrapped by 2019. If there is a current shortfall in revenue, then it should have been addressed by the time the government is heading for what it might hope will be re-election. It was also not unreasonable in suggesting that the tax does not have to be for all time in any event. It almost certainly won't be if the PP return in 2019, but if there is the current urgent need to balance the books, why not look upon the tax as something of an emergency measure with a finite lifetime?

One business sector that was represented was the shipping industry, and the cruise operators have been making it clear just how much they reject the tax. An urgent meeting with President Armengol has been called for, the director of the CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) España warning that ships can quite easily find other ports to visit than those of the Balearics. Among the objections are the fact that the tax would be levied on all passengers, including those who don't come ashore. Then there are the logistics of its charging, which seemingly the ship operators would not be able to make to the "end customer", i.e. the passenger, implying that they would have to carry the burden for the tax. There again, a tax applies in Barcelona, and the volume of passengers there only keeps rising.

A further source of opposition is the Deutscher ReiseVerband (DRV), the German body that is roughly equivalent to ABTA. Its British counterpart has itself fired off a letter to the Balearic government regarding the tax, and the DRV has done likewise, while it has also sought to involve Madrid. The national government has told the DRV that it is totally opposed to the Balearic tax, not that this does a great deal of good in that Madrid can't prevent its introduction. The DRV president, Norbert Fiebig, is warning that Mallorca's status as the most popular destination for German holidaymakers is threatened by the tax, while he has also referred to its giving a "negative impression that not all guests are welcome any longer". This is something with firm echoes of the old eco-tax and the state of high dudgeon that the Germans sensed when it appeared that tourists - certain ones anyway - were not welcome in Mallorca.

Watching on from across the sea will be the government in Valencia. While another primary tourism region - the Canaries - has dismissed the idea of introducing a tourist tax, Valencia, meaning Benidorm and all, is considering one. Its notion of the tax is one firmly aimed at the environment. It would be "re-educative" rather than being a revenue generator, which is a fairly odd logic. "Simulations" of tax introduction are being made, according to the region's finance ministry, to see if the economic benefits of the tax would outweigh what is described as "inevitable political attrition within the tourism sector". What curious language they use sometimes.

Index for October 2015

Balearic finances - 15 October 2015
Balearic government one hundred days - 6 October 2015
Catalonia, Mallorca nationalism - 7 October 2015
Clocks back in Mallorca - 20 October 2015
Corruption and local police - 29 October 2015
Dancing politicians - 12 October 2015
Esporles sweets fair - 4 October 2015
Feudal tax in Mallorca - 1 October 2015
Holiday rental regulation - 3 October 2015
IB3 broadcaster and political interference - 8 October 2015
Inca - General Luque - 22 October 2015
Joana Camps' trips to Menorca - 13 October 2015
Llucmajor fairs - 18 October 2015
Magalluf and resort obsolescence - 21 October 2015
Mallorca season 2015 - 28 October 2015
Manacor town hall - no confidence - 23 October 2015
Palma's political intrigues - 27 October 2015
Partido Popular Balearics leadership - 5 October 2015
Podemos divisions - 26 October 2015
Self-service alcohol - 10 October 2015
Spain National Day - 14 October 2015
Skype and personal space - 9 October 2015
Swing music in Mallorca - 25 October 2015
Tourist tax - 17 October 2015, 19 October 2015, 24 October 2015, 30 October 2015, 31 October 2015
Walking on Words - 11 October 2015
What's On - 16 October 2015
Zombies in the Balearics - 2 October 2015

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