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The Malaga federation does not support the view of the employers' association in the region. . Migue Fernández / Archive
Malaga and Costa del Sol retail sector up in arms over regional tourist tax proposal in Andalucía
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Malaga and Costa del Sol retail sector up in arms over regional tourist tax proposal in Andalucía

Comercio Andalucía, in favour of the proposal, said that visitors do not choose a destination based on a tax, and "you only have to apply common sense to realise that it is not a determining factor"

Juan Soto

Malaga

Tuesday, 26 March 2024, 16:40

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The possible implementation of a tourist tax in Andalucía, has caused uproar among traders in the region. The idea of taxing people to visit the destination - a possibility currently being studied by the Junta regional government - has provoked division and dispute between the different employers' associations representing the sector at a regional level.

It started after a press release was sent out by the employers' association Comercio Andalucía where it said it was in favour of implementing the tax throughout Andalucía. The group, in the media statement, claimed to speak on behalf of all business owners. However, many of them don't share the same view. "We have not even been consulted," some said.

Comercio Andalucía said it believed "there are many myths about the tourist tax that need to be debunked, including the myth that it would make us less competitive with other destinations that do not have it in place". The organisation's position is that visitors do not choose a destination based on a tax, and "you only have to apply common sense to realise that it is not a determining factor".

"They haven't even consulted us", said the president of the Málaga Comercio federation

The employers' association - the press statement continued - said it understands there are other much more important factors that determine the attractiveness of a tourist destination and that are related to the supply of infrastructures and services, the assessment made by other tourists or the cultural, natural, heritage or gastronomic attractions of a destination.

Comercio Andalucía said it is committed to the tourist tax "as a formula to generate income to improve the maintenance of shopping streets in tourist areas, lighting, infrastructure, services or heritage that are caused by the increased influx of visitors at certain times of the year," it added.

But many people throughout Malaga province have an opposing view. Malaga Comercio Federation president Salvador Pérez said the press statement failed to capture all of the voices of the business community as they were not aware of it. "There will be things that we agree with more or less, but the real problem is that they have not contacted us to see what we think," he said.

Pérez said only the opinions of two or three provinces have been taken into account in the drafting of the press release, and neglected to include the majority. "We are studying all the details and we will send out another statement with our real opinion," he added.

Rodrigo Bocanegra, president of the traders' association Centro Histórico CCA, was also taken by surprise. "I thought we were against it," he told SUR. "We can't put more obstacles in the way of tourism."

The introduction of a tax is generating widespread debate. Last week, the tourism sector expressed its opposition as it would "penalise the Andalusian people". Both the president of the Confederation of Businessmen of Malaga, Javier González de Lara, and the president of Aehcos and the Malaga Chamber of Commerce, José Carlos Escribano, consider the tax inopportune and ineffective.

The idea of the tax was put on the table by the Junta president who called on tourism minister Arturo Bernal to join a meeting between the Andalusian Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FAMP) and the Confederation of Andalusian Businessmen (CEA) in which the Junta will act as a "mediator" to "encourage" both parties to reach an agreement.

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