Barcelona city council to levy tourist tax on day-trippers
Initiative proposed by conservative Democrats group to charge tour operators for bringing one-day visitors into the city to become effective in 2018
The Economy and Treasury Commission of the Barcelona city government has approved a new tax on tourist operators providing day-trips to the city by visitors who do not stay the night. The aim of the charge is to regulate the use of public space and to foresee its occupation, according to the proposal, which is to become effective in 2018.
All municipal groups voted in favor except for Ciutadans and the Catalan People’s Party, both of whom abstained.
Barcelona welcomes 30 million visitors a year, of which 13 million do not spend the night in the city. Of these, cruise ship passengers are to be exempted from the charge since they already pay a tourist tax, as well as private visitors who do not come to the city with a travel operator.
A spokesperson of the Democrats group that presented the proposal, explained the measure with the example of the groups that visit the Magic Fountains on Montjuïc, which attract elements, such as “blanket sellers”. The buses that carry these kinds of visitors cause traffic chaos, the group argues, and should contribute to minimizing the negative side effects of their activity. He also warned the city government that not reacting to these problems leads to “tourist-phobia”.
The different groups in the city council expressed their support, but also asked for more details of the new measure. The leader of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) in the city government, Alfred Bosch, explained that his group approves of the idea behind the initiative because whoever has an impact on the city should also contribute to its maintenance and improvement. However, Bosch also called for more concrete details, for example, whether the tax will be applied to the parking of tourist buses and what role the Catalan government should play in the initiative.
The Catalan socialists gave their support but warned of the necessity to make sure these kind of measures are well implemented and are not nullified by a court afterwards.
The Catalan People’s Party, which did not vote in favor, questioned the authority of the city government to implement such a tax, and said that the Democrats group seemed to share the “taxaphilia” of the Ada Colau local government.
Meanwhile, the anti-capitalist CUP group showed itself favorable towards the initiative, but is also asking for more specifics of the measure.