Update: The Catalonia Tourist Tax went into effect on November 1, 2012. For details about the rates, see the Catalonia Tourist Tax Fees table at our sister site, the Costa Brava Tourist Guide.
VisitBlanes.com, March 20, 2012 — The Government of Catalonia has approved the autonomous community’s budget proposal for 2012 — which includes a provision to introduce a tourist tax.
The bill was approved by 61 votes in favor, 52 against and 17 abstentions.
Catalonia hopes the extra taxes called for in the budget will help to somewhat alleviate financial problems in the health- and education sectors to the tune of 60 million Euro.
Money from the tourist tax — which will go into effect on November 1 this year — will be used to finance the newly founded Tourism Development Fund, which will produce promotion campaigns for tourism in Catalonia.
Twenty five percent of the money will be shared with municipalities in the region to be applied toward the cost of public services.
When the budget proposal was first introduced Andreu Mas-Colell, Finance Minister for Catalonia, also mentioned the cost of subsidies to airlines such as Ryanair in efforts to have them maintain flights to and from Catalonia’s secondary airports of Girona and Reus.
Catalonia’s New Tourist Tax Rates
Tourists — local, national and foreign alike — who stay at five-star hotels or on board of cruise ships will pay € 2.50 per night.
Those staying at four-star hotels will be charged € 1,25 in Barcelona, or € 1,00 in the rest of Catalonia.
In the remaining facilities — including hotels with fewer stars, self-catering apartments, hostels and campings — tourists will end up paying € 0,75 in Barcelona, or € 0,50 elsewhere.
Tourist Sector ‘Furious’
When the tax was first proposed Catalania’s tourist sector reacted furiously, suggesting that many vacationers would stay away.
But the Government pointed out that many other tourists destinations, such as Paris, New York or Tokyo, already tax visitors.
In 2011 Spain saw an 8,1 percent growth in the number of foreign tourists, for a total of 56,9 million travelers.
In the first 7 months on that year foreign tourists also spent 8,8 percent more money than in the same period the year before.
The average amount of money spent per tourist and per day increased by 1,2 and 4,1 percent respectively.
Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister of Spain, in January this year said that tourism is the big engine behind Spain’s economy.
His Plan Integral del Turismo includes efforts to help starting entrepreneurs in the tourist sector, promoting favorite destinations by increasing hotel capacities, encouraging the development of new destinations, and promoting Spain’s image abroad.