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Hotel guests to be charged tourist tax

By INÊS LOPES [email protected]

Hotel guests in Vila Real de Santo António (VRSA) are to be charged a tourist tax to help towards the upkeep of the city’s sports complex, an infrastructure the council says is vital to the competitiveness of the area as a tourist destination.

The Câmara says the Complexo Desportivo, through sporting and cultural events held there, is a tourist magnet and contributes towards increased hotel occupancy levels in the area.

However, the €3 million the council spends annually to maintain the infrastructure is proving too much and the creation of a taxa turística applicable to hotel guests  in the area will help relieve the financial burden.

VRSA Câmara says those levels of investment, made solely by the council, were responsible for the rising number of athletes and sporting organisations choosing the destination for training camps and competitions, such as the ‘Mundialito de Futebol’, the ‘Copa Foot 21’ or the Europeans Champion Clubs Cup (Athletics).

These events are said to result in each user of the sports complex spending an average of a week’s accommodation in hotels units in VRSA.

“Not only do we invest in an appealing sports calendar, but municipal funds are also spent on developing a programme of regular cultural events that have continuously attracted interest from visitors particularly in the low season,” stated a spokesman for the Câmara.

For this reason, the council felt it was important to share the financial responsibility of promoting the city’s main attraction, which has played “the biggest role in raising tourist occupancy in the area”.

So from the end of this summer, all tourist accommodation units in the VRSA council will include an additional fee to guests bills, which will average €1 per overnight stay per person, except children under the age of 10.

Part of the funds collected from the ‘tourist tax’ are to be used in promotional campaigns both nationally and internationally.

VRSA Mayor Luís Gomes said: “The payment of this symbolic amount, a measure already in place in other European cities, is crucial under the current economic climate.”

The mayor also added that any hotel bookings made prior to the announcement of the tourist tax would not incur the charge.

A public discussion on this measure is currently taking place. Those wishing to take part in the debate should contact the Câmara on 281 510 005

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