Holidays to popular tourist destination Gran Canaria and its neighbouring Canary Islands are set to become an even more tempting offer. The Canary Islands government want to offer tax breaks to Britons to encourage them to the Spain-owned archipelago after Brexit. The government’s proposed move will cost it an estimated 100 million euros a year – but is considered well worth it for the advantages it would bring. British holidaymakers would be exempt from local “VAT” under the plans – which were initially proposed at the beginning of the year.
Holidaymakers currently pay seven per cent on certain products and services such as restaurant and bar bills under the tax known as IGIC or the “Canary Indirect General Tax”. A restaurant bill of 80 euros would be 85.60 euros with IGIC added.
The eight Canary Islands, including Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, would be able to spare Britons the local “VAT” under a legal agreement which classifies the islands as “an outermost region.”
Getting rid of the tax would be a way to continue attracting Britons to the popular holiday destination and avoiding loss of their valuable expenditure.
According to figures from the Ministry of Finance, just over five million visitors from the UK spent around 1,500 million in the Canaries in 2017.
The number of Britons heading to the islands, just off the coast of Africa, has declined in recent years although their spending has increased.
If Britons do become exempt from the local “VAT” they will be put in the same categories as Russians and visitors from “third world countries,” said the government. The proposed new system would be “more modern, agile and secure.”
It will work by repaying the tourist tax more quickly and efficiently with a document given with all invoices.
British holidaymakers will no longer have to go through Customs but will instead see optical readers installed at airports on the islands.
Tourists heading to the Canaries need to be careful however as authorities are clamping down on certain behaviour.
Holidaymakers who graffiti some of the protected sand dunes on Gran Canaria could face jail time.
Covering around 1,000 acres, the dunes are considered one of the most important ecosystems of Gran Canaria – but they are now severely at risk due to the careless behaviour of some people.
Environmentalists have complained that some graffiti works – such as writing in the sand – are so enormous they are visible from space and show up on Google Maps.
They claim tourists are guilty and are creating the “art” in order to take selfies with them.
The island of Tenerife shares these concerns, and damage in its protected parks, including around the Teide volcano, is being reported to the police.
Perpetrators could be fined up to €600 (£525) and will have to pay the cost of the restoration work.
Additional reporting by Rita Sobot.