Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Twisted Knickers: Rentals And Tourist Tax

Knickers in a twist. Are yours? It could only happen in Mallorca. Holiday rentals legislation and tourist tax, that is. Oddly enough, it can appear that it can indeed only happen in Mallorca. Why? The island's success, that's why. It has held the tourist leadership for so long, it has become so ingrained into holidaymaking culture, it has attracted international media attention like no other destination for many a long year. It could only happen in Mallorca.

Are knickers in a twist elsewhere? Regarding rentals and tourist tax? Locally there may well be. Apartment owners (and speculators) have discovered that there are rules and that there are regulations. Talk in bars or in the local press is of concern with taxes. But the outside world knows little of such matters. Elsewhere, as in other tourist destinations, isn't Mallorca. These destinations compute but not to anything like the extent that Mallorca computes. What happens in Mallorca most certainly doesn't stay in Mallorca. It never has done. It fills column inches for the foreign press. Elsewhere doesn't. There isn't the same interest as with Mallorca. The island sells itself and it sells papers. Elsewhere doesn't sell itself and doesn't sell papers.

Here's an interesting little scheme for you. You'll have heard of Croatia. You can't not have heard of Croatia in the past, what, less than a week since the Balearic tourist tax announcement. Everyone's going to Croatia next year. It's just so the new Mallorca. It isn't because, given its lower capacity, not everyone will be able to fit into a hotel. It will be more the new Mallorca because the demand for (and supply of) holiday rentals will therefore shoot up, just like Mallorca's demand and supply have shot up. That's where the little scheme comes in, and it isn't like Mallorca.

Do you know that if you, as a holidaymaker, rent a property that isn't registered with the tourist board in Croatia, you could be liable to a fine of the equivalent of around 400 euros? You didn't know? You now do. Why the fine? Because of the law. Isn't legislation, aren't regulations such a damn nuisance? Don't governments know anything about tourism? Like the Balearic government doesn't know anything. Well, the Balearic government and indeed the Spanish government do not have laws which mean that a holiday rentals' guest in Croatia follows the same rules as hotels. The owner has to register you with the police. Croatia wants to know who's in the country.

The Croatian owner can be hit with a fine for not registering the guest on top of the fine for not having registered the property as a business and for not therefore having gone along with the scheme of classification of properties (akin to the hotel star rating). The fines aren't as huge as they now are in Mallorca, but the principle is exactly the same. Knickers in a twist in Croatia?

There is a tourist tax in Croatia as well. It isn't as high as Mallorca, but there is a tax nevertheless. Just as the Greek islands, everyone's other darlings for next year, will have a tourist tax of up to four euros per room per night. Fancy anywhere else? Malta, for instance? It has something known as the Environmental Contribution. Sounds familiar? Sort of, yes. Again it isn't at the same rate as Mallorca (and of course the rest of the Balearics), but there is still a tax. In Bulgaria the tax might be up to eight euros per person per stay. In French resorts, the old cap of 1.50 euros per night that could be charged went up two years ago. No one ever mentions the French tax, yet it has existed for years, which is the same in Germany. Turkey doesn't have a tourist tax but does have a charge for an entry visa. The cost for a family of four is roughly what it will cost from next year for a family of four (two kids under-16 who are exempt) for a week at a Mallorca five-star hotel.

There is only one other region of Spain where there is a tourist tax - Catalonia. Its tax was introduced in late 2011, and its star-rating system for private accommodation is much the same as Croatia's. In Valencia - Benidorm and all - there are holiday rentals rules that are not dissimilar to those in the Balearics. But not even Benidorm makes its way so determinedly into the media pages. And nor does Portugal, with requirements for inclusion of holiday rental licence registration numbers in website adverts that are identical to those in Mallorca and the Balearics.

You see, it can only happen in Mallorca. All those twisted knickers, that is. Yes, the tourist tax is generally higher than elsewhere (not all cities, though), but other governments might just fancy a little increase and you'll probably never hear about it.

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