Thursday, May 23, 2024

Lisbon City Council plans to double tourist tax to four euros per night

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Lisbon City Council has approved a proposal to increase the tourist tax on overnight stays from two to four euros per night, enabling a Socialist Party (PS) amendment to exclude campsites. Initially, the tax was one euro per night, but in January 2019 it was increased to two euros.

Lisbon Tourist Tax 2024

The proposal also provides for the tourist tax on arrivals by sea to be updated from one euro to two euros, although the amount that is now being proposed is the one that began to be applied this year, when this tax began to be levied on cruise passengers.

In a private meeting of the municipal executive, the PSD/CDS-PP proposal was approved with the PCP abstaining and the remaining councillors voting in favour, namely the proposers, PS, Livre, Cidadãos Por Lisboa and BE, according to a municipal source.

The proposal will now be subject to “a 30-day public consultation period” to gather contributions before it comes into force.

The PSD/CDS-PP leadership suggested including campsites in the tourist tax, but the PS proposed eliminating this measure, which was approved with the PSD/CDS-PP and BE voting against. The BE argued that the tourist tax for arrivals by sea should be four euros per passenger, but this proposal was also rejected, with PSD/CDS-PP, PS and PCP voting against.

“Increasing tourist tax is very fair for the city and for Lisbon residents”

After the vote, in a written statement sent to the Lusa news agency, the mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas (PSD), said that “increasing the tourist tax is above all very fair for the city and to the people of Lisbon”, noting that this option will make it possible to increase the quality of tourism and reinforce investments in fundamental areas such as urban cleaning, mobility and interventions in terms of infrastructure and heritage.

“This option to increase the tourist tax is the result of the conclusion that today tourism in Lisbon needs to contribute more and improve the quality of life in our city. And thus also raise the quality of the tourists who come to see us,” said the Social Democrat, emphasising that at all times the situation must be assessed in the light of the real scenarios that exist and the specific circumstances.

In May 2021, in an interview with TVI as a candidate for mayor of Lisbon, at a time of economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic, Carlos Moedas talked about reducing the tourist tax. “We’re going to have to think very carefully about whether we should reduce this tourist tax in order to gain competitiveness in tourism, which is going to struggle,” he said at the time.

Confronted today with this change of position, the PSD mayor defended himself: “I was true to what I said. I analysed the issue very carefully. At the time, we were coming out of the Covid crisis with major economic impacts. Today, the reality is different, with other cities charging a very high tourist tax compared to ours.

Tourist tax revenues used for the benefit of the city

Recalling the “very strong opposition” of the PSD/CDS-PP to the creation of the tourist tax, the PS councillor welcomed the change in position and emphasised that “the revenue from the tourist tax has always served to reduce the tourist footprint on urban hygiene and transport, or to diversify tourist attractions, easing the pressure on Baixa, Belém and Parque das Nações”.

The Socialist councillor recalled that it was with these funds that the Palace of Ajuda and the Carlos Lopes Pavilion were restored, and the Sul Sueste Station was built.

The Socialists warned that in the PSD/CDS-PP proposal “there is no reference to the destination of the revenue, leaving the idea that it is more to compensate for the cash flow problems of the municipality, which only recently asked for a loan of 50 million euros”.

Justifying its abstention vote, the PCP said that “the 40 million or so euros currently collected by Lisbon City Council as a result of the tourist tax are a long way from being used to mitigate the most negative impacts of tourism on the city”, pointing to the “deplorable situation” in terms of urban cleaning and hygiene and the difficulties with public transport in the most overburdened areas.

“Choosing in this context to double the tax, without the necessary debate and the necessary reorientation of priorities regarding the application of the funds, seems to us to be manifestly inopportune and inappropriate,” said the PCP.

Tourist tax in Lisbon began to be applied in January 2016 on overnight stays by national tourists (including locals) and foreigners in hotels or Local Accommodation (LA) units. Initially it was one euro per night, but in January 2019 it increased to two euros.

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