Hoteliers in Mallorca and Ibiza are calling for the immediate suspension of the islands’ controversial tourist tax in a bid to head off the “devastating” effects of the coronavirus crisis. They say prospects for the new season, starting with Easter in April, are very worrying, with numerous cancellations both from group bookings and families expected in the coming weeks.
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The call was made to the Balearic Government to freeze the tax temporarily as a way of encouraging holidaymakers to push ahead with holiday plans, or consider the region as a vacation destination.
It comes as many holidaymakers begin to cancel plans, and Spain’s number of confirmed cases of coronavirus surpasses 3,000.
The tourist tax in Mallorca and Ibiza aims to promote sustainable tourism with the revenues being invested in environmental protection.
However, it adds an extra expense to holidays for tourists.
The tourist tax in Mallorca and Ibiza from April fluctuates between one and four euros a night per adult depending on the level of accommodation.
It can cost a family more than £50 a week but brings in around €120 million for the Balearic Government.
Hoteliers say a quick decision over a postponement could be made as it is a regional matter and would not have to go through Spain.
“The hotel sector has requested the Balearic Government, within a package of measures to alleviate the economic effects of the coronavirus, to temporarily suspend the Sustainable Tourism Tax, known as the ecotax.
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“This request is shared by other business associations of the Balearic Islands. In addition, this is a measure that can be taken by the Regional Executive, as it is a tax of its own.
“Other requests, such as bonuses for permanent workers on Social Security, are the responsibility of the State,” said a spokesman for the hoteliers following a crisis meeting.
Hotel insiders are pushing for the decision to be made as soon as possible, with a “flood of cancellations” anticipated.
The Hotel and Business Federation of Ibiza and Formentera says hotels and restaurants will open as usual in April but they are not expecting a good start to the season which might be extended to November
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Balearic president Francina Armengol, who has yet to make any comment about the tourist tax, said: “My first message is of condolences and support to admitted patients and family members.”
She said those affected in the Balearic Islands are 0.8 percent of the total of the State and has called for the population to take all possible personal measures to prevent the spread.
The Balearic Government is also calling for more control at ports and airports and stop the maritime connection with risk areas.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has officially named COVID-19 a pandemic, causing multiple governments to put travel bans in place.
Many airlines are already refusing flights to China.
Now, the US has banned travel to Schengen states in Europe.
The UK is not currently imposing a travel ban, with Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance saying that banning all travel “Wasn’t going to make a big difference.”
The expert also claimed that medical checks for symptoms at airports are not enough to stop the virus infiltrating countries around the globe.
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