HOTELIERS in Majorca and Ibiza want the Balearic Government to scrap the controversial tourist tax for two years in a bid to win British holidaymakers back to the islands.
Currently, tourists pay approximately £3.50 a night, depending on the category of their accommodation and the time of year, meaning couples face paying an extra £50 for a seven-night holiday.
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The tax was doubled in 2018, despite huge opposition, and brings the government approximately €1.8 million (£1.5 million) annually.
Hoteliers claim it is going to be hard enough to recover from the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic without putting further obstacles in the way of Brits who will be looking at value for money when they eventually start travelling abroad again.
As a result of the damage being caused to tourism by the coronavirus pandemic, hoteliers say continuation of the tourist tax would severely hinder the recovery of Majorca , Menorca and Ibiza, as the islands would be facing a great deal of competition with a reduced market.
President of Tourism Promotion of Ibiza, Alejandro Sancho said the call to scrap the tax for 2020 and 2021 was being repeatedly made during all meetings to discuss the recovery plan from coronavirus.
It has been backed by the Hotel Federation of Ibiza and Formentera whose vice-president, Juanjo Riera told Periodico de Ibiza: "It is no longer just knowing when Spanish tourists will be able to travel, it is about our main foreign market, which is the British one and we still do not know when it will be able to travel and then comes the Italian market, which is basic for Formentera."
The Federation says Majorca and Ibiza would first see the return of the national market but these holidaymakers would find it cheaper to choose locations on the mainland where they could travel by car, train or bus rather than pay out extra for air fares.
This would be another reason to scrap the tourist tax.
"Competition for the national tourist will be intense," Mr. Riera warned. "Benidorm will not have its main market this year, which is also the British one, and they will seek to fill their hotels with national tourists."
The Balearic Government has made no mention so far about the tourist tax as it plans for de-escalation.
According to the Balearics Tourism minister Iago Negueruela, the local government is expecting the islands to remain closed in May, June and July due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But they are cautiously optimistic about opening up in August, with 25 per cent of their usual visitor numbers – this could then increase to 50 per cent of the usual visitor numbers over the following months.
However, he told local media that only tourists from certain countries would be allowed in.
Mr Negueruela said: "There are countries like the United Kingdom that have taken too long to adopt containment measures and that also puts us in a different situation with respect to them."
Spain's PM Pedro Sanchez has since revealed a six-week plan to get business and social life back on track, based around four phases – a preparatory phase zero which officially kicks in Monday followed by three recovery phases which would see beaches reopened to the general public on June 8 if all goes to plan.
Four of the islands will be able to start the first phase before the rest of Spain.
He explained: "On May 4, the island of Formentera in the Balearic Islands, and the Canary Islands of La Graciosa, La Gomera and El Hierro would go to phase one and the rest of Spain a week later if they meet the pre-established requirements.
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