Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lousy Communications: The tourist tax

So now the confusion kicks in. The tourist tax was being discussed on "Good Morning Britain" on Thursday. Lack of clarity was a key message. This is hardly surprising when tour operators are themselves not totally clear and when the foreign media is likewise uncertain. Some of the reporting is laughable, such as the headline from "Metro" which referred to the cost of holidays to Spain going up. The report did then specify the Balearics, but why give the impression that it was the whole country? The same report then quoted someone from ABTA who seemed to be under the impression that the tax revenue will be used solely for the conservation of the marine environment. Perhaps it was a case of selective reporting.

The final text of the sustainable tourism tax law did show one or two changes from what had been the draft text. A significant one is that the 50% reduction on the daily charge starts on the ninth day of a stay. The original intention had been from the eleventh day. There is also an amendment to the purposes for the tax revenue. Marine environment is one of a raft of purposes, but gone from the previous list is anything specific for the promotion of tourism (with the exception of the promotion of sustainable tourism, however this might be defined). Also gone is any redevelopment of resort infrastructures.

The text of the law establishes that "projects of an environmental character will be prioritised". Although members of the government, such as the finance minister, Catalina Cladera, have insisted this is not a return to the old eco-tax, it would appear that it primarily is - with an emphasis on protection, conservation, modernisation and recovery of the natural, rural, agrarian and marine environments.

The confusion and the misleading reporting stem, I'm sorry to have to say, from the incoherence that has dogged the introduction of the tax law and from the lousy communications of the government. Let me cite an example. So poor have these been that I, not exactly a wholehearted advocate of the tax, once binned a communication from the ministry and rewrote the whole thing for them from scratch (and it was published). If you're going to introduce a tax, at least try and get the message over in a sympathetic and persuasive fashion: that was what I attempted to do.

The incoherence has arisen because of the various interests of the political parties, individuals within them and the environmental lobby (six of whom will be on the commission to determine how the revenue is spent; there are also six from business). This has meant that the purposes for the tax revenue have shifted. It has been said to me that, left to his own devices, Biel Barceló might have brought in rather different legislation. I'm sure he would have done. There are those to the left of him in his own political grouping (Més) and in Podemos. He has had to bow, for the purposes of agreements for government, to these interests. The consequence is a dog's breakfast of a law, being poorly implemented, being introduced at the wrong time, being badly communicated. Other than all this, it's fine.

Index for April 2016

Balearic government and ministerial quotas - 5 April 2016, 10 April 2016
Convention centres and the Palacio de Congresos - 29 April 2016
Dry stone - 11 April 2016
Fiestas and changing traditions - 18 April 2016
Food trucks - 24 April 2016
Fornalutx correbou - 27 April 2016
Graffiti - 17 April 2016
Innovation and research - 6 April 2016
Mario Conde - 14 April 2016
National tourism ministry - 20 April 2016
Panama papers and Mallorca hoteliers - 8 April 2016
Partido Popular leadership - 12 April 2016
Pedro Zaragoza and Spain's tourism past - 26 April 2016
Public way and terraces - 21 April 2016
Puerto Pollensa: pedestrianisation and ice-cream kiosk - 23 April 2016
Republican homage after 85 years - 15 April 2016
Silvia Cano - 3 April 2016
Spain and government - 13 April 2016, 25 April 2016, 28 April 2016
Terrorism and tourists - 22 April 2016
Theodore Pratt - 4 April 2016
Time and working day - 7 April 2016
Tourismphobia - 19 April 2016
Tourist tax - 2 April 2016, 9 April 2016, 16 April 2016, 30 April 2016
Youth unemployment - 1 April 2016

No comments: