Growing anger in Spain over EU ‘tourist tax’ for Brits

Growing anger in Spain over EU ‘tourist tax’ for Brits as Costa del Sol launches attack on Brussels plan that is feared could drive UK holidaymakers away

  • The EU could begin to apply tax of 7 euro (£6.20) per non-EU tourist in November
  • Spain’s Mesa del Turismo expressed concern that it could lose millions of Brits

The Costa del Sol has issued a blistering ‘leave tourism alone’ message as fears grow over a new EU tourist tax.

Tourism leaders have said they are completely against the idea which could force Brits to pay an extra €7 (£6.20) every time they want to go on holiday to Spain.

In a clear message to the EU, one of the Costa del Sol’s leading politicians has told it to stop meddling and leave Spain to manage its own tourism affairs.

Earlier this week, the tourism organisation Mesa del Turismo sounded an urgent warning about losing millions of Brits if the European Union introduces a new tourist tax later this year.

The group says it could be a major problem for Spain, describing the potential new charge as a ‘threat’.

The Costa del Sol has issued a blistering ‘leave tourism alone!’ message as fears grow over a new EU tourist tax (file pic: aerial view of Costa del Sol, Benalmadena, Malaga, Spain)

In its general assembly, the group expressed concern about the creation of the new tourist tax for non-EU visitors who enter the Schengen Area. 

The European Union could begin to apply this rate from November, under the name of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and would entail the payment of €7 per non-EU tourist. 

This would be on top of any local tourist tax in the growing number of Spanish regions which charge €2-5 for each night spent in hotel accommodation.

In a statement on Monday, the board said: ‘[We are] especially concerned about the impact of this EU tax on British tourism, our main issuing market with 18 million arrivals in 2019. 

‘It must also be taken into account that the measure – if it goes ahead – will be added to the rest of local taxes that the tourist is already paying to visit certain European cities.’

Francisco Salado, president of Malaga’s provincial council, also spoke out against the EU tax.

‘Leave tourism alone!’ he told a Press conference.

‘Tourism works very well on its own through the sector and the agents involved such as Turismo Costa del Sol and Turismo Andaluz.’

Talking to journalists, he said tourism was the economic engine of Malaga and Andalusia and criticised the prospective tax.

He added: ‘Stop inventing. Every time we introduce a product, we do it because we improve tourism quality and, in the end, an imposition does not improve the quality. 

‘What it does is put a cost on the final product and makes us less competitive. 

‘The EU is always inventing how to put new taxes on the municipalities.

‘They legislate up there and we, the city councils and the citizens, pay. I think it is a lack of loyalty that local administrations are not there when making these decisions.’

The president of the provincial council of Malaga, pictured, has spoken out against the tax

The president of the provincial council of Malaga, pictured, has spoken out against the tax 

Another concern raised by the Mesa earlier this week was over Lufthansa’s plan to convert the Rome Fiumicino airport into its new hub for intercontinental routes to Asia, America and Africa.

The group said: ‘This move would undermine the Madrid Barajas hub, which currently concentrates air traffic with Latin America and, consequently, would decrease the relevance of the Spain brand.’

The ETIAS will apply to visitors from visitors from 63 countries – including Britain – outside the European Union. It was first confirmed by the EU in August 2021.

The scheme will be similar to the US’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) system – which allows citizens from 40 countries a 90-day visa-free stay. 

Like the US system, the ETIAS will allow people visa-free entry for up to 90 days, during which visitors are not allowed to work or study, but can ‘engage in business and tourism activities,’ according to the Schengen visa info website.

The EU’s version will be valid for up to three years – and will count for multiple entries. Those under 18 and over 70 will be exempt from the fee.

The website states visitors ‘can enter the Schengen member states as many times as you want, for as long as your ETIAS is valid, and you have not stayed more than 90 days in a 180-day period.’