Hoteliers accept VRSA tourist tax

A bitter row over Vila Real de Santo António’s decision to charge a tourist tax has moved on to an unexpected truce, in which the council, hoteliers and real estate agents have teamed up to create a “municipal board” to decide how to invest the money.

The news is all the more surprising considering Algarve hotel boss Elidérico Viegas said in April that hoteliers would do “whatever it takes, even go to court” to stop the tax (click here).

It was VRSA council’s “willingness to accept hoteliers’ suggestions” that apparently won the day.

According to the agreement, the tax will only start being charged in January 2017.

Charging it in the summer would “create accounting problems and affect hotel bookings that had already been made,” explained Carlos Viegas, general manager of Hotel Vasco da Gama.

The council has also agreed to reduce the tax by 50% for over-60s during the low season (October 30 – March 31).

Though these changes were made to bring hoteliers on board, the plan basically remains the same – to charge every visitor €1 for up to a maximum of seven nights.

This means no one will pay more than €7 per stay, even if they stay in VRSA for three weeks.

Children under 10 won’t be charged, while only 50% will be charged for children aged 11-13.

The revenue will then be channeled back into the tourist sector, with decisions being made jointly by the local authority, hoteliers and property salespeople.