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'Tourist tax' proposal slammed by hoteliers

albufeirabeachAn inevitable explosion of indignation has been heard from the offices of the Portuguese Hotels Association and the Algarve’s regional hoteliers’ trade body over the proposal by the region’s mayors to introduce a ‘tourist tax.’

The Associação de Hotelaria de Portugal says that the mayors’ planned introduction of the tourist tax across all the region’s council areas, is “inopportune and inappropriate when considering the competition from other tourist destinations and in taking into account the reduction in British tourists.”

Expressing surprise and concern at the decision, the national association stresses, “the fact that the Algarve is a very seasonal destination and that longer stays in hotels, compared to urban destinations, will oblige hoteliers to raise their prices, especially in low season.”

The association said the mayors’ decision, with the notable exeption of Silves, whose mayor did not go to the crucial March 9th meeting, “was taken without any consultation with the hotel industry. This demonstrates a total lack of knowledge of the reality of the sector ".

The Association of Hotels and Tourist Enterprises in the Algarve, also has expressed its opposition to the imposition of the ‘tourist tax’ with many of its members claiming the tax is illegal and that the mayors are simply ‘shooting themselves in the foot.’

One of the weaknesses in the mayors proposal is the use that any tax revenue will be put to, with Jorge Botelho, mayor of Tavira and AMAL's chairman, stating weakly, “"it will certainly be to the benefit of the region and the development of the Algarve council areas,” including the support of “culture, combating seasonality and promoting the quality of the Algarve" – aspects of tourism that the regional tourist authority already is funded for and fully engaged in.

Another claim by Botelho is that tax revenue will be used for a local commerce support fund to “revitalise downtown commercial areas” and launch ‘Comércio Algarve’ as a new brand as well as organising events, creating free parking and improving  security – all of which councils should be doing anyway, especially now that many are awash with funds.

ACRAL, which represents traders, says it does not agree with the 'tourist tax' measure, but if it does come in, it asks that part of the money raised be used to support local trade.

Botelho blamed AMAL’s press service for stating “the vote by 16 mayors was unanimous,” when only 15 mayors had been at the meeting, with Rosa Palma from Silves emailing her objections prior to the meeting which she could not attend.

The hoteliers and many members of the public have predicted that, with such a floppy remit outlined by Botelho, that money raised from a tourist tax simply will be used for council’s general spending or to replace promotional spending on tourist related categories.

Overseas press already are picking up on the 'tourist tax' news, a cul-de-sac that Botelho will be unable to reverse out of - see the Express:

Algarve TOURIST TAX: Hotels panic at SHOCK plan to introduce tax on holidaymakers



0 #5 Plain Speaking 2018-03-15 08:08
Can your Portuguese readers please let us know the local equivalent to 'shooting oneself in the foot'. It seems to be a recurring psychological condition affecting Algarve politicians!!
+2 #4 RG 2018-03-14 15:55
Holidays this year are already at premium costs, everyone has jumped on the bandwagon, airlines , hotels, tour companies and apartment owners. Another rise in the costs in my opinion will just lessen the interest in people holidaying in the Algarve.
+1 #3 elspeth macmillan 2018-03-14 09:15
This is unlikely to lead to pay rises for the underpaid workers in the tourist industry. It is more likely to create unemployment.
+1 #2 Jack Reacher 2018-03-14 08:25
Yet another avenue to generate monies to fuel corruption. This tourism tax money will just end up in the mayors pocket oe some other low life politician in the Algarve that will use it to better his life. Make this tax money accountable and put it to towards tourism related causes..which doesnt include fixing the EN 125 or other wasteful projects.
+3 #1 BrunoG 2018-03-13 20:36
Catching those renting out unregistered was too difficult. :-?