TOURISM

Madrid City Hall mulling Barcelona-style tourist tax

Opposition conservatives dub new leftist government’s idea “nonsensical”

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena on Thursday.
Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena on Thursday.ZIPI (EFE)

The city of Madrid is considering the introduction of a tourist tax that visitors would pay as part of their hotel bills.

The announcement was made on Monday by municipal treasury chief Carlos Sánchez of the Ahora Madrid leftist coalition.

“It is one of the possible taxes in the 2016 budget, but we are still at the initial analysis stage in terms of legal and operational issues; nothing has been decided yet,” he said.

This is attacking one of our most important sectors, which is doing well now but was at a low point a year ago” Madrid PP leader Esperanza Aguirre

The idea mirrors a tourist tax introduced by the Catalan regional government in November 2012. Last year, the region’s coffers received €41 million from a levy that adds €2.50 to the bills of five-star hotel and cruise ship customers, €1.25 to those of four-star hotel clients, and €0.75 to those at all other establishments.

Sánchez said that “by the first week of September at the latest,” the government team would present its tax initiatives for the 2016 budget, which may also include a fee on banks for taking up street space with ATM machines.

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Popular Party (PP) mayoral candidate Esperanza Aguirre, who narrowly won the Madrid elections but lost the mayor’s office after the Socialists supported Ahora Madrid’s Manuela Carmena, has called the proposed tourist tax “an absolutely and totally nonsensical” measure.

“This is attacking one of our most important sectors, which is doing well now but was at a low point a year ago,” she said.

Municipal elections held on May 24 gave control of the capital to the leftist coalition Ahora Madrid after nearly a quarter of a century of uninterrupted rule by the center-right PP.