Catalonia’s tourist fee begins without a problem
During the first few hours of the implementation of the tourist tax, no problems were detected. The fee ranges from 50 cents to 2.5 euros per hotel per night depending on the accommodation category and zone, with a maximum of seven nights per person. Children under 17 and tourists from social programmes are exempt from paying the fee. Clients have not complained and most of them say that they understand the need. Hotel owners have adapted their software to include the tax payment, although they complain that they have to pay for this change. This type of fee is common in countries such as the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Morocco, Egypt and Japan. The Catalan Government expects the tax to raise €50 million, to be used for the promotion of tourism.
Barcelona (ACN).- From the 1st of November, everybody staying in Catalan hotels, camping sites and cottage houses, has to pay a symbolic fee according to the accommodation\u2019s category and zone. Clients say that they understand the reasons for such a tax and hotel owners say there were no complaints about the measure. The fee ranges from 50 cents to 2.5 euros per night, with a maximum of seven nights per person. Children of 16 and under and tourists participating in social programmes (such as organised trips for retired people) are exempt from paying the tax. 91% of Catalan tourist accommodation will be charging a fee of \u20AC0.75 or \u20AC0.50 per person per night. The Catalan Government decided to create such a tax in order to obtain additional revenue to guarantee funds for tourism promotion, which have been affected by budget cuts put in place to reduce the public deficit. It expects to raise \u20AC50 million per year, which will be split between the Catalan Tourism Agency and local tourism boards and town halls. The associations of hotels, camping sites and cottage houses owners were against the tax, as they feared it could be \u201Ccounter-productive\u201D and \u201Crepresent an unfair disadvantage\u201D with other zones of Spain, as they told ACN months ago. Many countries have implemented a tourist fee, which is paid via the hotel bill most of the time. In fact, most of Catalonia\u2019s neighbouring countries and those from where most of the foreign tourists come have a similar tax. Most of Catalonia\u2019s competitors also have the attractions of the sun and the beaches and the cultural and urban tourism. These countries include the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Japan.
The tourist fee is gradual, depending on the accommodation category
The fee is gradual, depending on the accommodation category and geographical zone. It is also limited to a maximum of seven days, which means that people will not have to pay the tax from their eighth night onwards. Tourists staying in accommodation within the city of Barcelona will have to pay a higher tax than those staying in the rest of Catalonia, such as the Costa Brava or the Costa Daurada. Visitors staying in hotels with three stars or less, camping sites and cottage houses will pay a fee of \u20AC0.50 per person per night (with a maximum of seven nights). However, those staying in Barcelona will have to pay a fee of \u20AC0.75 per person per night for such hotel categories. Regarding four star hotels (or four star superior), the tourist fee is \u20AC1 for most of Catalonia and \u20AC1.25 for the city of Barcelona. Finally, tourists staying in five star hotels (or five star Grand Luxe) or in cruise ships that stay more than 12 hours in Barcelona will have to pay 2.5 euros per night.
In order to reduce the impact of the fee, the Catalan Government decided it would already include the VAT, which is 10% for hotel accomodation. Spanish legislation requires that all the taxes related to a service should be part of the price from which the VAT is calculated. This means that, if it would have not been previously included, the impact of the tourist fee on the final bill for the customer would have been higher.
Clients understand the need for the tax
There has been a generalised understanding among hotel clients regarding the tourist fee. There were no unpleasant surprises at the hotel desks, as reported by the hotel associations to ACN. Most of the clients were already aware, as hotels have been informing about the coming of the tax for the last two months. Furthermore, they were also providing clients with detailed explanations. \u201CWe told them is not for us\u201D and that it is a tax decided by the Catalan Government in order to increase public revenue, explained Xavier Nicolazzi, Chairman of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Girona and its neighbouring area. According to Nicolazzi, most of the tourists understand perfectly the need for the tax and accept it without a problem. \u201CWe work with many French clients, and they are very used to paying this kind of tax\u201D, he stated to ACN. Even the tourists arriving without a reservation or without knowing about the tax accept paying it once at the hotel front desk.
\u201CTo me it seems normal to pay this tax, as abroad everybody pays it and if we can afford the luxury of going out to a hotel we need to contribute [with our effort] as the economic situation is very hard\u201D, stated Ramon Riera, who is from Catalonia and is staying in Girona in a hotel for the night. Amnon Hirsh, from Israel, paid a total amount of \u20AC10 for accommodation for three people in a four star hotel in Barcelona over four days. \u201CSpain is in a crisis and needs this money, why not give it to them?\u201D stated Hirsh.
Hotel owners complain they had to adapt the software
The only complaint comes from hotel owners, as they were obliged to adapt their accounting and billing software in order to include the fee payment. Hotel owners complain that they had to pay for the software adaptation, which increases their operation costs. The Catalan Government will not pay for this adaptation, although the funds will be used for tourism promotion.