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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 06:21 GMT 07:21 UK
Tourists taxed on Spanish Islands
holidaymakers on Ibiza beach
Tourists will end up paying more during their holidays
Holidaymakers heading to Spain's Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean are facing a new and controversial tax intended to help protect the islands' environment.

The eco-tax will be levied on the estimated 11 million tourists heading to the popular beach-holiday destinations of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca.


It doesn't sound like much, but it will add up to a tidy sum for many on a normal two week holiday

Humphrey Carter
Majorca Daily Bulletin
At a three star hotel, the tax demand will be one euro - about 62p - a day for each person over 12 years old.

That will mean almost 35 for the average family on a two week stay.

The tax has been brought-in by the autonomous left-wing Balearic government but has caused a major legal battle in Spain's Constitutional Court.

The tax has also dismayed hoteliers who fear that the Balearic Islands will lose their reputation as cheap holidays in the sun.

Free drinks

Earlier this year, hoteliers warned that the tax could deprive the economy of 600m euros ($528m; 370.9m) a year.

Some of the hotels are reportedly offering free drinks in order to offset the tax.


The industry is the landscape

Francesc Antich
Islands' leader
Tourists will be told on arrival that the environmental tax can be claimed back by spending in the hotel bar through coupons, according to the ABC newspaper.

Tourists staying in apartments will face the same tax, whilst campers only have to pay half the amount.

"There are going to be some shocked visitors when they check-in," said Humphrey Carter at the Majorca Daily Bulletin.

"It doesn't sound like much, but it will add up to a tidy sum for many on a normal two week holiday."

Illegal?

The islands depend on tourism for 84% of their gross domestsic product.

The World Tourism Organisation has already warned that the islands could be the victim of their own success as mass tourism damages areas of natural beauty.

The tax is expected to generate at least 30 million euros a year in extra revenues.

The islands' socialist leader, Francesc Antich told El Pais newspaper:

"In the Balearics, the industry is the landscape. Our policy is to control growth and have sustainable development."

Last month, a German tourist federation accused the islands' authorities of discrimination.

And the tax could still be declared illegal in the courts later this year.

See also:

10 Jul 01 | Wales
Tourists face island tax costs
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