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EL OF A SHOCK FOR TOURISTS; Spanish islands introduce visitor tax.

Byline: Consumer Editor Jane Barrie

Hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers could be caught out by a new Spanish tourist tax that becomes law on July 1, travel association ABTA have warned.

The premium applies to everyone aged 16 or over visiting the Balearics, which includes the islands of Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.

While package firms have been informing customers in advance, those who booked holidays independently could be in for a shock.

Sean Tipton, of ABTA, said: "People generally don't like unpleasant financial surprises, especially on holiday.

"We informed our members about this tax in March, as soon as we became aware that it was definitely being introduced, so they could let customers know.

"But about 50 per cent of people travelling to Spain do so independently. We have no guarantee at all that they will have been made aware of this tax and it may come as a bit of a surprise when they get to their hotels."

The tax, introduced by the islands' government, is a daily levy of up to two euros - about PS1.55 - per person.

The exact rate depends on the hotel's star rating - and after eight nights the levy is halved. It is collected by hotels and passed to the authorities.

The tax means a family of four on a fortnight's holiday could pay an extra PS70.

The money is meant to go towards protecting the area's natural resources.

Tipton said: "When the tax was proposed, we told the authorities they should really think long and hard about whether they want to do this because people don't like paying taxes and it can affect visitor numbers.

"They said they didn't want to drive people away but needed the tax to benefit the environment. We asked for reassurances that the money would be used properly and they gave us those.

"If you look at visitor numbers, the Balearics are looking forward to a record year, so it hasn't put people off so far.

"It may impact later on when tourists find they are hit with a bill they didn't expect at checkout."

A similar tax will be introduced for people travelling to Malta from June 20. But it's much lower than in the Balearics at 40p per night and capped at five euros.

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 12, 2016
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