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‘Tourism has reached its limit’: Barcelona votes to raise tourist tax from October

‘Tourism has reached its limit’: Barcelona votes to raise tourist tax from October

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Barcelona charges a tourist tax and a city tax: What’s the difference and how much are they?

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Barcelona’s tourist tax is one of the fastest rising in Europe.

Since 2012, the visitor hotspot has added an extra fee on top of the region-wide tourist tax.

In 2022, city authorities announced that the so-called city tax would be increased over the next two years.

The city’s surcharge varies depending on the type of visitor accommodation and is only levied on official tourist lodging. In April this year, it rose from €2.75 to €3.25.

Barcelona is Spain’s most visited city and continues to struggle with overtourism.

In response, the city council has recently voted in favour of raising the tax up to €4 per person from October.

How much is Barcelona’s tourist tax?

Visitors to Barcelona have to pay both the regional tourist tax and the city tax.

The regional tax varies depending on the type of accommodation you are staying in. For four-star hotels it is €1.70, for rental accommodation like Airbnb it is €2.25, and for five-star and luxury hotels it is €3.50.

Cruise passengers spending less than 12 hours in the city pay €3 to the region, while those spending more than 12 hours pay €2.

The separate city tax, which applies to a maximum seven-night stay, has been steadily increasing. It is currently set at €3.25 per night for the majority of visitors and €4 for those staying in tourist apartments or stopping off by cruise for less than 12 hours.

What does it mean for accommodation prices in Barcelona in 2024?

As of October 2024, visitors to Barcelona will have to pay €4 to the city on top of the regional tourist tax – an increase of €0.75 per night.

That means guests in five-star accommodation will pay a total of €7.50 per night – €52.50 per person for a week’s stay, up from the current €47.25.

The idea behind this is to encourage “quality” tourism over big numbers and pay for expenses like cleaning and security, according to the city mayor.

Why does Barcelona have a tourist tax?

Barcelona’s authorities have said the increased tourist tax aims to attract ‘quality’ tourism over big visitor numbers.

The city sees an average of 32 million visitors a year, many of whom arrive on cruise ships.

In 2022, the Catalan capital launched new measures to curb disruption from guided tours including noise restrictions and one-way systems.

Barcelona en Comú, which was among the parties that voted in favour of the October increase, said that “tourism has reached its limit”, Spanish newspaper El Pais reports.

The hike in the tourist tax, which is divided between Barcelona’s Generalitat and the City Council, will also bolster the city’s budget.

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Authorities hope the new higher tax will increase income from €95 million to €115 million in 2024.

“The economic data for tourism in 2019 is already increasing, not in the number of tourists, but in the amount of income from tourism in Barcelona,” deputy mayor Jaume Collboni said.

“It was the objective sought: to contain the number of tourists and increase tourist income because our model is no longer mass tourism but quality tourism, which adds value to the city.”

The council said the proceeds would be used to fund the city’s infrastructure, including improvements to roads, bus services and escalators.

Which other Spanish cities have a tourist tax?

Barcelona isn’t the only tourist hot spot in Spain taxing visitors to cope with their impact.

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The Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera), charges a nightly fee of €1-4 for each holidaymaker aged 16. Known as the Sustainable Tourism Tax, it is used to promote better tourism practices and conserve the islands’ nature.

Valencia planned to introduce a similar measure at the end of last year, but it was scrapped following the 2023 elections. It would have seen travellers pay between 50 cents and €2 per night for up to seven nights.



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