The Balearic finance minister, Rosario Sánchez, only has a few days left before her ministry must deliver the initial draft of the 2023 budget to parliament. The accounts are more or less ready, but one issue is causing a problem - the tourist tax.
Two of the three parties of coalition government, Més and Podemos, have been arguing for an increase in the tourist tax rate - for the high summer months at the very least. Sánchez and her party, PSOE, have flatly rejected the idea. One reason is that they don't want a battle on their hands with the hoteliers, as there is a more important issue - ensuring a decent pay increase from upcoming negotiations that will set new pay scales from April next year.
Putting pressure on hoteliers with a rise in the tourist tax is therefore not considered to be positive. The other parties don't see it this way. They believe that an increase would send out a message to left-wing voters that measures are being taken to try and reduce tourist overcrowding in summer. The revenue from an increase, they argue, is not the issue, as regional finances are healthy, especially as the government will be receiving additional sources of funding next year.
While the Més and Podemos proposal causes a complication, it is most unlikely to be approved if presented as an amendment to the budget. The opposition parties - the Partido Popular, Vox, Ciudadanos, El Pi - are all against an increase in the tourist tax and would vote with PSOE to ensure that there isn't one.
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Personally, I'm not opposed to tourist tax. Especially considering how hugely popular the Balearics are, especially Mallorca. Keeping it sustainable requires some investment. It's not simple. In fact, the tax could probably be raised without negatively impacting the numbers (although I would not favour raising it). But the tourist tax itself isn't the problem. It's the system. First, the collection system is all wrong. The hotels and private lets are burdened with collecting it. This adds substantial collection and accounting burdens. It's just unnecessary. Second, it's too complicated. There's a different rate for 3 star, 4 star, 5 star, private lets, and villas are the most expensive of them all. And it changes from high to low season. It's confusing to both tourists and accommodation providers. And again, adds burden to an already burdened business. Third, the way it's collected from the accommodation providers by the government is rather "thumb in the air". They simply estimate what the accommodation provider probably collected, based on annual tourism stats, weighted against the class of property and capacity. It's not exactly accounted for. And that opens up all kinds of opportunity for accommodation providers to either charge more and profit from it, or get screwed because they didn't collect enough. Considering the seasonal and class rate complications, lots of room for error. I believe everyone would be better off if they simply charged a low flat rate all year round, for every incoming air or ferry passenger, which would be simply added to their ticket. Fully accounted for by the air or ferry line (they already have the infrastructure to easily do this). In this way, the tourist isn't confused or surprised, the accomodation providers aren't burdened, the whole thing is accounted for, and the Balearics would likely collect even more tourist tax, even though charging less per tourist. And there would likely be a lot less dissent about it.