Edition 1504
08 December 2018
Edition: 1504

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Tourist Tax Backlash

by Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 15-03-2018 12:49:00 · 1 Comments

A number of major players on the regional and national tourism scene – Silves council, the Algarve’s largest hotel association AHETA, the ACRAL Algarve Commerce and Services Association and the national hotel association AHP, to name some – have vented their opposition to a regional tourist tax that has recently been approved by the Algarve inter-municipal council board, AMAL.

Tourist Tax Backlash

AMAL last week green-lighted the creation of a region-wide tourist tax to be charged at the Algarve’s hotels and other types of accommodation, such as private lodgings rented through Airbnb.
It was approved following a meeting last Friday, though when the new tax will be introduced and how much the cover will be have yet to be decided.
Porto and Lisbon already charge a similar tax, of €1 per tourist, per night, to a maximum of seven consecutive nights’ stay at a time.
One of the most significant opponents to the tax is the Association of Portuguese Hotels, the AHP, which described the impending add-on as “untimely and inappropriate” and detrimental to the Algarve with regard to competition.
“The fact that the Algarve is still a very seasonal destination with longer stays, compared to more urban destinations, will also oblige hoteliers to adjust their prices, especially in low season, in order to compensate their guests, which shows that this decision, passed without any consultation with the hotel industry, demonstrates a total lack of knowledge of the reality of the sector”, the AHP said in a statement.
Echoing the AHP’s stance, the Algarve Commerce and Services Association ACRAL said in a statement that, “as a principal”, it is not in favour of the introduction of a tourist tax in the Algarve, but said if it does come to fruition, part of the new tax should go towards a “local commerce support fund”.
“The introduction of a tourist tax will overburden the stay of those who visit us, reducing the competitiveness of the destination, or, alternatively, will penalise the region’s hotel sector”, said Álvaro Viegas, head of ACRAL, adding “in no way is it a desirable measure for the Algarve.”
In Viegas’ view, “the application of a fee presupposes the provision of a service, which is not the case, and a tax can only be created by Parliament.”
He said should such a tax come into play in the Algarve, part of it should be channelled into a local commerce support fund, which should be created to “help preserve or renovate public spaces, contribute to the creation of free parking, or to enhance safety in city centres and more touristy areas.”
Following suit, Silves council issued a statement in which it vehemently stressed it “rejects the introduction of a tourist tax in the Algarve”, contradicting an announcement made by the AMAL municipality association, which conglomerates the region’s 16 individual councils, stating all were in favour.
“Contrary to what was recently said by the Association of Municipalities of the Algarve (AMAL), because it does not correspond to the truth of the facts or the position of the Municipality of Silves, we would like to stress to the media and public opinion in general that Silves is against the introduction of a Municipal Tourist Tax in the Algarve, and does not endorse the decision taken by the remaining 15 municipalities”, Silves said in a statement issued this week, reiterating: “There is no unanimity among the 16 Municipalities of the Algarve about the application of the Tourist Tax.”
Silves further said it believes the creation of the tax would result in “greater territorial inequality and a deepening of intraregional asymmetries”, as well as “producing counterproductive effects in the promotion of tourism.”
The council added it “disagrees that the financial shortcomings of the municipalities or entities with which the State has obligations, must and can be resolved through the approval of new taxes”, but instead the government should “fully comply with the Local Finance Law, transferring the resources required by that Law [for councils] to provide a better service to the population and to create more favourable conditions for local development.”
AHETA, the Algarve’s largest hotel association, shared Silves and ACRAL’s stance, saying the tax will “damage” the Algarve.
Criticising AMAL’s decision, the hotel heavyweight accused the inter-municipal grouping of “not understanding the true subsistence of Algarve tourism”.
It argued that, contrary to Lisbon and Porto, where a tourist tax is already in place, the Algarve is not a short city-break destination, but a holiday destination where visitors tend to spend longer periods.
The hotel association said it “reserves the right to initiate all legal actions allowed”, to prevent the application of a measure it considers “unfair, illegal and harmful to regional and national public interest.”

Comments

I dont think for one minute it will stop people coming but visitors already spend enough money while on the Algarve, more taxation (including A22 toll) is an insult.
by Paul Lockyer from UK on 16-03-2018 10:16:00

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Edition 1504
08 December 2018
Edition: 1504

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter

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