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Spain’s tourism minister has branded an eco-tax introduced by the Balearic Islands as “crazy” and likened it to Germany placing a tax on its car-making industry.
Jose Manuel Soria, minister of industry, energy and tourism, spoke out against the €1-€2-a-night tax, due to be levied on each visitor to the Balearic Islands from next year, during a speech at World Travel Market.
He said: “I think it doesn’t make sense, it’s crazy. It would be the same thing if Germany, which has a strong automobile industry, decided to allow a special tax on the manufacturing of cars.
“The tourism sector in Spain has been a story of success for the past 25 years, because we have tourism professionals and companies that have done a really good job, but that doesn’t mean we have a guarantee that it will be like that in the future.
“[Tourism] is becoming one of the great drivers of economic recovery in Spain, so it’s wrong thinking to introduce more tax on that.”
He added that British visitor numbers had sprung back up to approach pre-economic crisis levels, with the UK making up nearly a quarter of all visitors to Spain and her islands.
There were 15 million British visitors to Spain in 2014, up 4.7% compared with the previous year, which not only accounted for 23% of overall visitors to the Mediterranean destination but also for a €12.7 billion contribution to the economy.
That figure is set to rise even further this year with a total of 15.5 million UK visitors predicted, following strong January-to-September figures which have already seen 12.7 million Brits take to Spanish shores.
Soria attributed that to growing consumer confidence in the UK, a strong pound-to-euro exchange rate, an increase in airlift with 45 new routes from the UK to Spain introduced this year, and an improved passenger load factor of more than 90%.
He added: “British tourism has played a very key role in our tourism. It’s the first and most important market for our country.”
More than 80% of British travellers to Spain are repeat visitors, and half of those report having been to Spain seven times or more. Tourism accounts for 11% of Spain’s GDP, and more than 12% of jobs in the country.
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