Are the Canary Islands heading for a tourist tax?

29 January 2018 09:10

The Canary Islands may introduce a tourist tax

The Canary Islands may introduce a tourist tax

The Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol (PSOE) - the non-ruling socialist party in the Canary Islands - has urged the government to impose the tax and cap the amount of holiday homes to be rented, in a bid to preserve the area from tourist saturation.

Record tourism levels

Canary Islands' minister for tourism, culture and sport, Isaac Castellano, has revealed this month that the area welcomed more than 16 million tourists in 2017 - a record number.

A Sustainable Tourism Tax has been in place in the Balearics (including Majorca and Ibiza) since July 2016 - a tax which raised around €30 million between July and December 2016. Canary Island officials are now thinking of following suit.

Last year, the Balearics also announced plans to double its tourist tax during the peak season in order to tackle overcrowding. The new rates, if approved, will be €1 per person per day for campers and hostel guests, €2 for cruise passengers and those staying in cheaper hotels and apartments, €3 for mid-range accommodation, and €4 for top-end hotels.

There is, however, debate as to whether the tax would be counterproductive to the Canary Islands' economy.

Nothing imminent

"I don't think there's any imminent likelihood of its implementation. If the tax does go ahead, and I'm sceptical that it will, I think it will likely have an effect on the fly-and-flop market but will have little effect on the active and cultural slow tourism market, which the islands need to attract in order to ensure sustainability," said Andrea Montgomery, the Telegraph Travel's Tenerife expert.

Areas of the Canary Islands have long had restrictions in place, including the summit of Mount Teide in Tenerife, and further restrictions in places like Teide National Park are also under consideration, in order to limit the number of visitors and prevent environmental damage, Ms Montgomery revealed.

According to Ms Montgomery, the aim should not be to dissuade visitors from visiting the area altogether, but to try and attract a certain type of tourist: "those who are more active and who make a better contribution to the economy by staying in small rural hotels and eating in local restaurants."

"This kind of tourist is, in my opinion, a more sustainable strategy for the future," Ms Montgomery said.

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