Since the summer of 2016, tourists on Mallorca and the neighboring islands have been asked to pay: Up to 4 euros “Ecotasa” per person and night are due. But what happens to the income from the tourist tax? We present some projects.

The “Ecotasa”, the tourist tax in the Balearic Islands, was highly controversial when it was introduced on July 1, 2016. The tax met with fierce resistance, especially from the hotel operators on the four islands – Mallorca , Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera – allegedly, vacationers would be deterred by the bed tax and their travel plans would shift to other destinations around the Mediterranean.

In 2018, the tourist tax for stays in the high season from May to October was even doubled. Specifically, this means per person and night: 1 euro in a simple hostal, 2 euros in a country hotel and up to 4 euros in a five-star hotel. Depending on the quality of the facility, guests of holiday apartments are as little spared as cruise passengers, who have to reckon with 2 euros. However, significantly reduced tax rates apply during the winter months.

“In the beginning the hoteliers were against it”, says Vicent Torres, deputy director of the agency for tourism strategy of the Balearic Islands during a visit to Hamburg. But after three years the “impuesto del turismo sostenible” (ITS), the tax for sustainable tourism, as the official name is, has proven itself. “The effects of the tourist tax are consistently positive.”

340 million for six project fields
The Balearic government has now raised more than 340 million euros. Vicent Torres does not accept the accusation that the additional income only serves to plug the budget gap. From the outset, the tax was planned with the aim of cushioning the negative effects of tourism and “redistributing part of the economic profits from this activity to society as a whole”.

Specifically, this means financing projects in the areas of the environment, sustainable tourism, historical heritage, scientific research, training and employment, and socially acceptable rents. The tax benefits locals and island visitors alike.

The range of the 220 projects that have now been launched includes much that is intended to correct the sins of the past. The islands have a lot of catching up to do in the construction of sewage treatment plants, because in many places wastewater still flows untreated into the sea. Therefore, funds from Ecotasa are invested in the construction of wastewater treatment plants, for example in Port d ‘Andratx on Mallorca and Portinatx on Ibiza.

Shuttle buses instead of private transport

But a lot is also being done in the area of ​​training specialist staff, such as the construction and establishment of a hotel management school on Ibiza with a focus on gastronomy and cuisine for 4.5 million euros alone.

With a view to more sustainability, the Balearic Government has also implemented other measures. This includes regulating the number of automobiles on the small island of Formentera.

Certain natural areas on Mallorca are closed to individual traffic in the main season. For example, visitors switch to shuttle buses on the way to Cape Formentor. And from 2025 there will even be a diesel ban in the Balearic Islands.

On the pages of the photo gallery above we show some examples of how the income from the tourism tax is used in the Balearic Islands.

Emily Wong

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