Spain warns EU's 'tourist tax' for Brits is a 'threat' to economy

Spain warns the EU’s proposed ‘tourist tax’ for Brits is a ‘threat’ to their economy and will see UK holidaymakers go elsewhere

  • The EU could begin to apply tax of 7 euro (£6) per non-EU tourist in November
  • Spain’s tourism board expressed concern that it could lose millions of Brits

Spain’s tourism leaders have sounded a warning about losing millions of British holidaymakers if the European Union introduces a new tourist tax later this year.

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

The alert was raised when the Tourism Board held its first General Assembly of the year. Two major problems were identified for the year ahead in connection with the competitiveness of Spain as a tourist destination.

The General Assembly of the Bureau expressed its concern about the creation of a new tourist tax for non-EU visitors who enter the Schengen Area.

The European Union will 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 seven euro (£6.20) per non-EU tourist.

Spain’s tourism leaders have sounded a warning about losing millions of British holidaymakers if the European Union introduces a new tourist tax later this year

‘The Tourism Board is especially concerned about the impact of this tax on British tourism, our main issuing market with 18 million arrivals in 2019,’ the board announced in a statement after the meeting. 

‘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.’

Juan Molas, president of the Spanish Tourism Board said: ‘We issue a warning in relation to these two alerts that seem to be going unnoticed, but that constitute two potential threats to the competitiveness of the Spanish tourism sector.’

Another concern raised by the assembly was over the commitment of the Lufthansa airline to convert the Rome Fiumicino airport into its new hub for intercontinental routes to Asia, America and Africa.

‘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 Tourism Board said.

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.’ 

The ETIAS is set to come into force from November 2023.

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