Tourist Tax Spending Decisions
The first 30 million euros of revenue from the Balearic tourist tax, introduced in June 2016, is now up for grabs giving the committee for sustainable tourism impetus the massive task of choosing between 236 proposals for ways to spend the 30 million euros put at its disposal. Distribution of the tax has been prioritised, with the need for preservation and development of an environmentally friendly water supply being the primary concern.
Approximately half of proposals submitted are related to water infrastructure. There are 116 projects with a value approaching 95 million euros dedicated to the creation of sustainable water and energy supplies. A matter close to the heart of all the Balearics it would simply be a question of which island benefits the most from the distribution of funds. The second most popular bids are aimed at environmental concerns, agriculture and marine preservation with 44 proposals worth more than 62 million euros, whilst cultural restoration and heritage attracted 37 bids with a combined value of over 38.5 million euros.
Tourism to Ibiza has certainly not suffered from the introduction of the daily surcharge which, last year, ranged from 0,50€ to 2€ per adult over 16 years, dependent on the official classification of the accommodation. In fact tourist numbers were up 11% in 2016 compared with the previous year. Ibiza airport saw 1,390,009 passengers pass through its doors in August alone, representing a 6.9% increase on the same month in 2015.
It is widely considered that Ibiza and the other Balearic islands are now seen as ‘safe’ holiday destinations given the climate of political and social unrest in many of the formerly popular countries. Having said that, tourism in Ibiza and Formentera, so far, remains seasonally dependent, with a limited number of direct flights into Ibiza during the winter months and a great deal of traditional holiday accommodation on both islands closing up, despite a pleasant, year-round climate.
The proposals that would be most beneficial to the Pitiusas island residents, therefore, would seem to be those dealing with diversity of employment, improvements in staff training and creation of low season jobs. There are three bids totalling 3.3 million euros and a further 22 proposals, worth more than 10 million euros, aimed at tackling seasonality and promoting low-season and sustainable tourism.
Whilst any of the projects will contribute to the long term benefit of the Balearics as a whole, the commitee will have its work cut out considering the best option and the priorities of each individual island before it sends its recommendations to the cabinet for approval. The combined value of proposals submitted totalled some 218.4 million euros, so disappointment in some areas will be inevitable. Applicants can, however, re-submit bids following the evaluation of annual tax revenue spending, when a much larger sum will be made available.
It would seem that the sustainable tourist tax has not proved the deterrent to would-be visitors that sceptics had predicted and has provided a healthy injection of cash to further promote the islands as considerate and sustainable holiday destinations.
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