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Threatened tax on the Balearic Islands’ could drive tourists away

The beautiful Spanish Balearic Islands are hugely popular with British holiday makers, particularly Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and to a lesser degree, the “little sister” of Ibiza, Formentera, Each year they attract around 3.5 million British visitors, however, tour operators are warning that a reintroduction of the tourist tax would deter these numbers from visiting the Islands.

The tourist tax was imposed in 2003 and dropped the following year because visitor number fell and if reintroduced the same could happen again. The “Eco” tax, as it is being called, would add up to £80 to the cost of a two-week holiday for a family of four.

The Islands’ vice president, who is also the tourist minister, said that the tax would be introduced, “with or without the help of the state” because it is “absolutely necessary”. This would take place in 2016, it is claimed that the tax is necessary to “preserve the paradise”.

Currently the proposals are being discussed and no decision has be made concerning the number of nights that would be charged, whether there would be an exemption for young children, it is also believed that the amount charged could be reduced out of season.

Naturally travel organisations are very concerned and the chief executive of Thomas Cook, warned in a statement that “the tax could lead to families, in particular, turning to cheaper destinations”. He drew attention to the previous tax which he said died a quiet death. The Travel Network managing director pointed out that tourists make a huge contribution to the local economy and it did not make sense to penalise them. Abta said that should the association receive an official notice of the levy of a tax, it would write to the government of the Balearics and point out that it is sure to drive tourists away.

It would seem surprising that having tried the tax before and seeing visitor numbers fall, it would again “kill the goose that lays the golden egg”.

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