Algarve hoteliers propose new fund to manage tourist tax revenue

Despite being against the idea of a regional tourist tax, the Algarve’s hotel and resorts association (AHETA) has suggested the creation of a fund to manage the revenue of the proposed tax “in partnership with the private sector”.

Says the association, the money should be used to “improve the attractiveness” of the Algarve by holding more promotional activities and supporting sustainable tourism projects. AHETA also calls for the revenue to be used to renovate the Algarve’s rundown historic heritage.

As the hoteliers point out, around 70% of all overnight stays in the Algarve are recorded in three municipalities – Albufeira, Loulé and Portimão – which is why the money should be channelled into a regional fund to ensure that it is more evenly distributed throughout the region.

AHETA has never supported the idea of a tourism tax in the Algarve. The association was one of the first to voice its opposition when the tax was approved by AMAL, the association of the Algarve’s 16 boroughs, in September.

Tourists will be charged €1.50 per day during the first seven days of their stay between March and October.

The bid was officially approved with favourable votes from all mayors except Rosa Palma from Silves, who called the tourist tax “a hoax” and said it will “create inequality in the region” and be “counterproductive”.

The hoteliers agree and believe the tax could affect the region’s tourism sector, especially during a time of “uncertainty” when Brexit has already contributed to a decrease of British holidaymakers in the region (-8.5% in 2017 and -6.1% in 2018).

They say the tax is “unfair and inadequate” considering the reality of the Algarve’s tourism sector.

Political storm in Portimão over tourist tax
Meantime, a political war has broken out in Portimão over the approval of the municipality’s tourist tax.

José Pedro Caçorino, a councillor from the opposition, accused the council of approving the proposal “illegally” without mentioning the need for a public consultation period of at least 30 days. He added that the proposal was only amended to mention the public consultation after he intervened.

The council has since struck back, saying that the only reason that this was not mentioned was that these public consultation periods are foreseen by the law and are always respected by the council. Despite this, the local authority decided to include a specific mention of the public consultation period in the final proposal, which was approved.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com