Spain’s Mesa de Turismo warns EU’s proposed tourist tax, ETIAS, could undermine Spain’s tourism sector, especially among British tourists, who make up their main market.
Spain’s tourism industry leaders have warned that the proposed tourist tax for non-EU visitors to the Schengen Area could cost them millions of British holidaymakers. The European Union’s (EU) proposed tourist tax, part of the system called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which will come into effect from November this year, will see non-EU visitors forced to pay €7.
This tax has been a cause for concern for Spain’s tourism industry as it could lead to a loss of British holidaymakers, who accounted for 18 million arrivals in the country in 2019.
Mesa de Turismo, a non-profit group representing the industry, has described the tourist tax as a ‘threat’ to Spain’s tourism sector. In a statement, the organisation expressed its concern about the potential impact of tourist tax on British tourism. The group highlighted that the new tourist tax would be added to the rest of the local taxes already being paid by tourists visiting certain European cities, which could further discourage them from choosing Spain as their travel destination.
Moreover, Mesa de Turismo also expressed concerns about Lufthansa’s plan 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 would consequently decrease the relevance of the Spain brand.
The president of Mesa de Turismo, Juan Molas, has issued a warning about these two potential threats to the competitiveness of the Spanish tourism sector.
The ETIAS system will apply to visitors from 63 countries, including Britain, outside the European Union. It 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. The EU’s version of the system will also allow 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.
Tourist tax will be valid for 3 years
Unlike the US system, the ETIAS system 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. Visitors ‘can enter the Schengen member states as many times as they want, for as long as your ETIAS is valid, and they have not stayed more than 90 days in a 180-day period,’ as stated on the Schengen visa info website.
The tourism industry is a vital contributor to the Spanish economy, and the country has long been a popular travel destination for British tourists. Spain welcomed over 18 million British holidaymakers in 2019, and British nationals accounted for the highest number of visitors to the country. However, with the introduction of the ETIAS system and the proposed tourist tax, the country may lose its appeal as a travel destination for British tourists.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism accounted for 14.3% of Spain’s GDP in 2019, employing 2.9 million people in the country. The tourism industry’s contribution to the Spanish economy is significant, and any decline in the number of tourists visiting the country could have severe economic consequences.
Spain is not the only country that could be impacted by the ETIAS system and the proposed tourist tax. Other European countries that rely heavily on tourism, such as France, Italy, and Greece, may also face similar consequences. However, with Spain being one of the most popular travel destinations for British tourists, the country could be hit the hardest.
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