Spanish tourism boss calls new tourist fee a ‘threat’ to travel sector


Spain’s tourism industry has warned it risks losing millions of British holidaymakers if the European Union proceeds with the introduction of a new “tourist tax” later this year.

The Mediterranean country, which is the most popular holiday destination for British travellers, has continued to attract tourists since the pandemic, with data from June 2022 finding that one in four international visitors to Spain were British.

But a new fee for non-EU visitors, which includes British tourists since Brexit, has caused alarm across the sector.

The charge, called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias), is expected to be implemented from November 2023.

Prospective visitors from any third country (one outside the EU) must complete an online form with details of health, education and any criminal convictions, and pay €7 (£6.20) for a three-year permit.

Those aged under 18 and over 70 will be exempt from the fee.

President of the Spanish tourism group, Mesa del Turismo, Juan Molas, has called the fee a “threat”, stating it risks undermining the country’s tourism sector.

In a statement following its first General Assembly of the year, the board said: “The Tourism Board is especially concerned about the impact of this tax on British tourism, our main issuing market with 18 million arrivals in 2019.

“It must also be taken into account that the measure – if it goes ahead – will be added to the rest of local taxes that the tourist is already paying to visit certain European cities.”

Mr Molas stated that the tax constituted a “potential threat to the competitiveness of the Spanish tourism sector”.

Etias, which was first confirmed by the EU in 2021, will apply to visitors from 63 countries – including Britain – outside the European Union.

Visitors will be allowed visa-free entry for up to 90 days, during which they must not work or study, but can “engage in business and tourism activities”, according to the Schengen visa information website.

The European Commission in Brussels has insisted that Etias is not a visa, however, saying: “There is no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data is collected and significantly less information is gathered than during a visa application procedure.”

But with the need to apply in advance and pay a fee, it is widely regarded as an “e-visa”, similar to the Esta scheme used for tourists to the US.


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