Catalonia tourist tax goes into effect

Skip directly to the Catalonia Tourist Tax Fees table

CostaBravaTouristGuide.com — The autonomous Spanish community of Catalonia, whose Costa Brava is one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations, started to levy a tourist tax on November 1, 2012.

The tax applies to any facility where tourists stay overnight — from campgrounds and youths hostel to hotels and cruise ships.

Tourist apartments and private houses rented to tourists are subject to the charges as well.

December 2014: This information is still current.
Blanes, Catalonia

The Catalan seaside resort town of Blanes is known as the Gateway to the Costa Brava

Hotel operators and others in the travel industry initially were upset, citing anything from the unfounded fear that tourists will decide to vacation elsewhere to the cost of updating hotel management software packages.

But the Generalitat de Catalunya points out that most countries in Europe and many throughout the world have long had similar measures in place, and that income derived from the tourist tax will result in more tourists visiting the region.

Under the terms of a bill approved last march, the tax fees will be used to finance the newly founded Tourism Development Fund, which will produce promotion campaigns for tourism in Catalonia.

Income earmarked to promote tourism

The Government plans to promote Catalonia as a prime tourist destination throughout Spain, Europe, and the rest of the world.

In addition the tax will be use for “tourism-related infrastructure” — which can include anything from the upkeep of seaside boulevards or the rebuilding of beaches after they have been damaged in storms, to payment of salaries for extra police man hours during such events as Blanes’ famous annual international fireworks festival.

The Catalan Government expects the tax to raise €50 million per year, which will be split between the Catalan Tourism Agency and local tourism boards and town halls.

How much tourist tax does Catalonia charge?

Not much, really. In fact, the Government says that for 96% of tourist who visit Catalonia the new tax will add only 1% to their total spending bill.

You’ll pay between € 0,45 to € 2,25 per person, per night — and only for the first seven nights. [1]

The amount depends on the type of establishment you are staying at, as well as whether you are staying in Barcelona or the rest of the country.

Type of Establishment Barcelona Rest of Catalonia
Cruise ships, 5-star, Luxury Hotels € 2,25 € 2,25
4-star, 4-star Superior Hotels € 1,10 € 0,90
Campings, Apartement, Others € 0,65 € 0,45

Note:

  • The tax is charged per person, per night
  • The Tax is charged only for the first seven nights of your stay
  • People aged 16 and younger are not charged tourist tax
  • Passengers of cruise ships that stay in Barcelona less than 12 hours are exempted

In addition, if you are staying in Catalonia as a participant in a social program operated by the public administration of a European Union member state. (If you didn’t quite understand that, rest assured: it does not apply to you).

How the tax is billed

If you have booked through a third-party, such as a tour operator that provides a holiday package including air travel and hotel fare, you should check whether or not the new tourist tax has been included in the total amount paid.

Tossa de Mar, Catalonia

The Costa Brava resort of Tossa de Mar is a popular destination for a day trip.

But regardless of whether you book or pay the hotel (or other establishment) direct or via a third party, the hotel is obligated to provide an invoice that presents a clear and separate breakdown of the amount of tax charged. (This doesn’t mean you may be charged twice. It simply means there must be a paper trail documenting that the tourist tax has been paid).

If the tourist tax was not already included in the payment you made to a third party, you will have to settle the bill at the hotel.

Note that the invoice is not subject to the normal 10% VAT for hotel accomodation. In other words, the tourist tax is not subject to an additional tax.

NOTE

It appears that some towns in Catalonia also have their own, local ‘hotel tax’ which is charged on top of the Catalonia-wide tourist tax. We have not received many reports of this happening, but we are currently looking into it.

Other regions may follow

Thus far Catalonia is the only of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions that charges a tourist tax, but as the country’s economic crisis deepens other regions may soon follow its example.

Meanwhile, hotel associations say they have had no complaints from tourists, likely because most of the tourists come from countries that themselves charge such taxes.


Comments

Catalonia tourist tax goes into effect — 6 Comments

  1. Yes, the tourist tax is charged on each visit you make — but only for the first seven nights of each stay.

  2. As a frequent British Tourist, having Spain as my main holiday location, I am appalled at this Tourist Tax charge! Spain, having no natural resources of its own – such as oil, gold, silver, copper, etc – depends completely on the Tourist, and heavily on the British Tourist, to boost its economy. Therefore, it is a complete INSULT to the Tourist/Holiday-maker to exploit us as we pay the lion’s share to maintain the Spanish economy. It is akin to biting the hand that feeds you, and as such I will never pay this tax, and go elsewhere for my holidays. I and my family and friends will NOT be held ransom by such a stealth tax. Disgusted British Holiday-maker.

  3. Oh boy, where do I start, Mr. C. McClinton?

    First, Spain has many natural resources. Google is your friend, so look it up.

    Many countries, regions, and cities throughout the world charge tourist tax. Doing so benefits tourists (read the article you are commenting on), and also helps create more jobs, which in turn helps the local population.

    As a Christian (I checked your name and email address and read your testimony) you should not begrudge it when people who find themselves in an economical tight spot find a legal way to help both themselves and others. Besides, taxation is a fact of life, and you know what Jesus said on the subject.

    You are free to go elsewhere, of course, but the list of countries and places that charge a tourism or hotel tax is growing, so your options are dwindling. Boycotting Spain is as silly as not buying goods at stores in Ulster because they charge a sales tax.

    That said, tourism is Spain — and in Catalonia in particular. Catalonia has seen a 2.3% increase in visitors compared to last year.

  4. Are these prices set in stone with regards to the tax? The apartments I am staying at in Salou on Saturday apparently charge 3 euro per adult per night?

  5. @Lee: I believe that Salou, like some other towns and municipalities throughout Catalonia (and the rest of Spain) does charge a local hotel tax in addition to the Catalonia-wide tax.

    You may want to check with the tourist office or with the adjuntament (city hall) to see whether you are being over-charged.

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