Well yes, it can be like this in winter. | MDB

The government has finally decided that the tourist tax will not double in the low-season months from November to April. A reason given is that a freezing of the rate for these months is consistent with the promotional strategy "Better in Winter".

The tax will therefore only go up for the main season of May to October. The low-season rate was already 50% of that for the main season, and this will continue. For example, a three-star hotel will attract a nightly rate of 0.50 euros in winter, half the one euro summer rate that has applied this year.

Estimated revenue from the tourist tax in 2018 is 120 million euros, which is more or less a doubling of this year's revenue; or at least the 64 million euros which have been allocated for tourist tax spending projects. A revenue increase of almost 100% does rather presuppose a similar number of tourists in 2018. As far as the government is concerned, a freeze of the low-season rate will not make a "significant difference" to the total revenue for 2018, which in itself is something of an admission as to the level of low-season tourism.

Nevertheless, as was evident this year, there was increased tourist activity in March and April, and it had been thought that the main-season rate would be extended to include April and possibly also March.

The government came under some pressure from Més in Minorca who had called for a low-season freeze in order to assist Minorca's winter business. The party's spokesperson, Nel Martí, has welcomed the government's decision, saying that it has respected the views of the Council of Minorca and also the council in Formentera.

The cabinet will give its official approval for the decision on Friday when it also approves the budget for 2018. There is, however, a potential issue with Podemos, who had insisted that there should be a doubling of the rate all year and had in fact made it a condition for supporting the government's budget.

Tourism minister Biel Barceló says that an objective is to give maximum support to the strategy for "redirecting" a large number of tourists to the autumn and winter. It is therefore logical to keep the existing low-season rate. In addition, he explains that the government is asking Aena to further reduce airport taxes in the winter. The government has no say over these charges but would like to by having co-management of the airports. At present, the airports are the sole responsibility of the national government via the airports authority Aena. There is a reduction of 20% in the low season (November to March) for certain airport charges, but the Balearic government would like to see this discount raised.

The freezing of the rate in winter does give Barceló some ammunition as he prepares to go to the World Travel Market in London, where he will have plenty of opportunities to explain the tourist tax policy. His task is being made a little easier by the fact that Greece is to introduce a tourist tax next year. Depending on hotel category, the Greek tax will range from 0.50 euros (one and two stars) to four euros per night per person.