Taxing tourists helps the Balearics to give back to sustainable initiatives

For many years, the Balearic Islands have been a hotspot for tourism. Made up of four larger islands, Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera, along with many smaller islands, they have been where vacationers flock for sun, sand and parties.

But in order to combat a massive influx of tourists each year, the islands tourism board has decided to regulate the laws surrounding tourist rentals, thereby limiting the number of tourists flocking to the islands.

How do the Balearic Islands minimize tourism?

In 2016, it was announced that the Balearic Parliament would create a new tax that would apply to stays in tourist accommodation. Although small (between € 1 and € 4 per person / per day), the idea was that it would hopefully compensate for people wishing to come to the island for a short time, instead encouraging more meaningful trips as afterwards. nine days the tax was reduced. by 50 percent.

This tax has proven to be very profitable for the Balearic economy with some 104 million euros raised in 2019 and an additional 270 million euros since the implementation of the tax.

A year later, in 2017, the Balearic Parliament added further regulations.

Deemed to be an “unregulated sector” by the then Minister of Tourism, Bienne Barcelo, the laws adopted directly appeased many islanders who were suffering the negative effects of mass tourism in Mallorca.

They also capped the number of beds available for tourists on the islands of Mallorca and Ibiza at 623,624.

The new laws stated that rentals through Airbnb and HomeAway sites must be authorized and registered with the Balearic government and that failure to comply may result in a fine of up to € 400,000 for large companies.

People who rent out their personal home are only allowed to do so for a maximum of 60 days per year.

The government has also banned the use of residential buildings for rental purposes – unless the building is in a rural area.

These rules have made it more difficult for people to rent their secondary private accommodation for long periods of time, reducing the number of tourists to individual islands.

Where is the money going?

The Balearics invest the money earned from taxes go back to sustainable ways.

The projects, selected by a committee for sustainable tourism made up of Balearic officials, economic actors and other organizations with a direct interest in the island’s sustainability journey.

In Mallorca, one of the smaller islands, windmills play an important role in its heritage and therefore a grant of up to € 15,000 has been made available to windmill owners in order to to finance workforce efforts.

The fund also offered up to € 780,000 on a € 1.2 million bill to help renovate a building in the UNSECO Tramuntana Mountain Range which is now used as a hostel for hikers, cyclists and active vacationers.

In 2021, the government hopes to use part of the fund to create a new app to educate vacationers about the Balearic marine ecosystem.