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Barcelona Mulls Regional Tourist Tax

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

08 July 2010

Inspired by large tourist towns in other countries, Barcelona in northeast Spain is reportedly considering the possibility of introducing a tax on its tourists in a bid to compensate for a reduction in state subsidies.

Eager to generate additional revenue to promote the city and region of Catalonia, tourism authorities in Barcelona have proposed the idea of imposing a EUR1 tax per tourist per stay, and have confirmed that the plans might be included in the next strategic plan for the city.

According to estimates from the tourism authorities, if applied in all tourist destinations in the region, the tax could serve to generate revenue of between EUR15m and EUR20m a year for Catalonia. Recent figures show that around 6.5m tourists visited Barcelona last year, proving one of the most popular Spanish destinations among foreign tourists.

Currently around 6,000 towns in France are authorized to impose such a tax, although only half of these elect to do so. The amount of the levy varies depending on the type of accommodation chosen by the tourist. Individual towns are able to independently determine the precise figures. Tourist taxes are also levied in, for example, New York and Saint Petersburg. The Italian city of Rome has also been authorized by the government to impose a levy on its tourists.

If adopted, Barcelona would be the first town in Spain to introduce a tourist tax. However, given the recent 1% rise in VAT on hotels in the country (from 7% to 8%), the proposed new tax may well prove highly controversial and be fiercely opposed.

TAGS: individuals | tax | value added tax (VAT) | Spain

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