GOVERNMENT chiefs in the Balearic Islands have backtracked on plans to charge holidaymakers twice as much tourist tax outside of the high season.
Visitors to hotspots like Majorca and Ibiza were expected to be asked to pay double to stay on the islands throughout next year.
Getty Images Tourists heading to Ibiza or Majorca in the off season were expecting to fork out for a tourist tax
But the anticipated price hike will be approved on Friday for high season holidaymakers ONLY before going before the region’s Parliament for final approval, it emerged tonight.
Regional government sources claimed on Monday the U-turn was “coherent” with its intention of promoting the Balearics as an off-peak destination with its ongoing Better in Winter campaign.
The bizarre decision, tantamount to admitting higher prices drive visitors away, comes less than two months after regional government chiefs boasted they were not worried the increased tax would discourage tourists.
Under the price hikes, the average high-season charge will jump to three euros, or £2.66, per person for each day’s stay on one of the Balearic Islands.
Getty Images A party crowd in Majorca – a favourite holiday spot for Brits
Holidaymakers at city and five-star hotels will pay four euros or £3.55.
The U-turn means off-season prices will be frozen at 2016 rates.
Regional governors announced the anticipated tourist tax rise at a press conference at the end of August.
They boasted they would rake in more than £90 million next year thanks to the extra charges and insisted they were not worried the increased tax would discourage visitors.
Doubling the rate for each tourist staying in a regulated establishment will have a dissuasive effect, especially on family tourism
The tax rise was immediately criticised, with one local newspaper describing it as “brutal and unjustified.”
Regional tourism minister Biel Barcelo called the rise “justified” and said the tourist tax, introduced last summer and known popularly as the ecotasa in Spanish, had been “well-received.
He claimed the money raised helped reverse the impact of millions of holidaymakers on the islands.
But respected online daily Mallorcadiario.com said in an editorial: “Doubling the rate for each tourist staying in a regulated establishment will have a dissuasive effect, especially on family tourism.
“Our main rival national tourist destinations, with the exception of Catalunya, don’t have a similar rate, and this increase will encourage many tourists to pick the Canary Islands, Andalucia and the Costa Blanca instead.”
It was widely anticipated that tourism tax prices would double between November and April ahead of the regional government U-turn.
Left-wing party Podemos has already signalled its intention to fight for an all-year increase when the government proposal goes before the Balearic Islands’ Parliament for final approval.
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