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Travel industry news

14 May 2019

BY Gary Noakes

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TRFBLI

Opposition to Balearics green levy 'largely disappeared' after raising €200m

Industry opposition to the Balearic Islands’ sustainability tax – which has raised €200 million in less than three years – has largely disappeared, officials believe.

Refuse on a deserted beach

The tax was introduced in July 2016 and is levied at between €1 and €4pppn, depending on star rating, as well as on cruise ships (€2).


Alexandra Wilms, the Balearic Islands tourist board’s corporate communications director, told TTG there was now an acceptance of the daily fee, which is collected directly by accommodation providers.


“I don’t think [tourists] see it as big a problem as in the beginning. Also, there was not a big decrease in tourism numbers.”


She added 90% of Balearics residents were “very happy” with the tax.


Speaking at a briefing in London, Wilms said an online awareness campaign would now commence, detailing the 150 projects being funded.


These include: €10 million on landscaping in San Antonio; €6.8 million to expand Majorca’s Llevant Nature Park; and €500,000 for beach cleaning.


Other investments include €40 million for charging points to encourage car hire firms to offer electric vehicles, plus grants for solar panels.


Diesel cars will be banned on the islands from 2025 and run-down housing is being acquired and renovated for use by seasonal workers.


“This is quite pioneering in the EU,” said Wilms.


Tim Fairhurst, policy director of the European Tourism Association, said initiatives like this meant getting providers of transport, energy and other services to work together. “It’s hard work behind the scenes; the will is there, but the political obstacles are big,” he said.


The EU had a policy of sharing good practice, which meant other nations could follow the examples of the Balearics. “This is not a competition,” he added.


Fairhurst warned that overtourism was “not a very helpful word”. “No one really knows what it means,” he said.


He added: “The risk for us is people think tourism is bad news in some way.”

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