Portimão Mayor tourist tax  proposal causes controversy

By ELOÏSE WALTON eloise.walton@algarveresident.com

Portimão Câmara President, Manuel da Luz, has denied that he is preparing to tax tourists who visit the area following criticism by those directly affected in the industry.

Earlier this month, Manuel da Luz said that he believed the answer to reduced revenue, as a result of the downturn in the tourism industry, could be to impose a tax on tourists.

This measure would help to make up a municipal tax shortfall of between 20 and 30 per cent caused by the slowdown of the real estate market and reduced tourism levels.

“It is time for us to consider new types of taxes in the municipality and one such tax could be imposed on tourists,” said Manuel da Luz.

He added that if each tourist paid between 50 cents and a euro to the Câmara when they visited Portimão, it would not have a negative impact on tourism but would raise ‘significant revenue’ for the area, given the large volume of tourists that visit each year.

In opposition to the proposal, Elidérico Viegas of the Algarve association of hotels and tourist resorts (AHETA) has said that he believes that the proposal is ‘unreasonable’ at a time when tourist destination competition is so high.

“The impact of such a measure upon tourists would be so negative that no amount of marketing would be able to cover this fact,” he said. “Palma de Mallorca applied an eco tax and is still paying the price of the negative image that this caused.”

Marketing strategies

In response, Manuel da Luz said that the measure was only an idea that he meant to discuss with marketing specialists and it was in that sense that he referred to it.

“It is a shame that the opposition have taken an idea and turned it into a fact,” he said. He added that he wanted to debate marketing strategies for certain areas and the promotion of councils with marketing expert Philip Kotler during his conference in Portimão this month, and mentioned tourist taxes as an idea which other destinations have already implemented.

“Portimão is being rethought as a quality destination and its natural landscape and environmental resources should be preserved and valued by the actions of public agents,” he said.

António Pina, president of the regional tourism board (ERTA), said: “There are no ideas that are taboo and these types of taxes are applied in other countries, but there is no sense in discussing this matter at present.”

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at ines.lopes@algarveresident.com