A bump in Barcelona’s tourist tax means that visitors should get ready to fork out a little extra for their stay as the city shifts away from mass tourism.
The city, the top tourist destination in Spain, is increasing its municipal tourist tax, bumping the total fee for five-star hotel guests up from €5.25 to €6.75 per night by 2024.
This tax is on top of the general tourist tax charged per night in the region, which was only approved by the Spanish government in summer 2020.
The amount varies based on the type of accommodation and only applies to regulated, official tourist spots.
Currently, those staying in a regulated tourist rental apartment pay €2.25 per night to the region and €1.75 to the city.
The Barcelona City Council has announced a ‘scaled increase’ to its municipal surcharge, meaning the €1.75 fee will rise to €2.75 on April 1, 2023 and to €3.25 on April 1, 2024.
While the tax increase is meant to attract ‘quality’ tourism – fewer guests who spend more – it’ll also bring in an estimated €53 million in 2023 and up to €100 million in 2024 for the city’s Generalitat and City Council.
The funds will be used for city infrastructure projects like road improvements and new escalators and elevators.
Deputy mayor Jaume Collboni said: “The economic data for tourism in 2019 is already increasing, not in the number of tourists, but in the amount of income from tourism in Barcelona.
“It was the objective sought: to contain the number of tourists and increase tourist income because our model is no longer mass tourism but quality tourism, which adds value to the city.”
Barcelona typically sees around 32 million annual visitors (excluding pandemic years), many of them day-trippers and cruise ship passengers.
The city first implemented a tourist tax in 2012, setting a price point of between 50 cents and €2.50 euros depending on the type of accommodation.
As of 2022, guests in four-star hotels pay €1.70 a night to the region and €1.75 as a municipal surcharge (totaling €3.45, set to rise to €4.95 by 2024); cruise passengers staying in the city for more than 12 hours pay €3 to the region and €1.75 to the city (totaling €4.75, set to rise to €6.25 in 2024).
Barcelona has struggled with overtourism in recent years, with tourist demand for accommodation driving up rents and forcing locals to leave the city.
The tax increase will only apply to those staying in regulated tourist accommodation in Barcelona, not in other areas of the wider region of Catalonia such as Salou or Lloret de Mar.
The region of Valencia recently announced a new tourist tax that will take effect in December 2023, allowing local hotels to add an amount of between 50 cents and €2 per night to each guest’s bill (though the charge is not compulsory).