Spain’s sunny Costa del Sol is a leading destination for Britons, but it now fears a new EU fee could put tourists off. The region accused the EU of leaving local councils out of the legislation.
Tourism officials in the Costa del Sol have said they are “totally against the idea” of the ETIAS system.
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is scheduled to launch later this year.
Under the scheme, British tourists and other non-EU citizens would need to pay seven euros (£6.16) to enter the Schengen Area.
The fee would be paid every three years and is part of an effort to tighten the security at EU borders.
But the fee has been slammed by several top tourist destinations, including Spain’s popular Costa del Sol.
Francisco Salado, president of Tourism and Planning in the Costa del Sol, has said he is totally against it.
In a press conference, he blasted the EU, saying: “Leave tourism alone! Tourism works very well on its own through the sector and the agents involved such as Turismo Costa del Sol and Turismo Andaluz.”
He added: “The EU is always inventing how to put new taxes on the municipalities. They legislate up there and we, the city councils and the citizens, pay.
“I think it is a lack of loyalty that local administrations are not there when making these decisions.”
Tourism officials are worried that the £6 fee will kill the industry in Spain as tourists already have to pay local tourist taxes to visit many popular areas.
Salado said that tourism was an integral industry in Malaga and Andalusia and he said that many taxes don’t improve the region’s offering.
He said: “An imposition does not improve the quality. What it does is put a cost on the final product and makes us less competitive.”
Malaga doesn’t currently have a tourist tax but other top destinations, such as Barcelona and the Balearic islands, do.
Tourists generally pay a fixed rate per night which increases if they stay in luxury accommodation.
Cruise tourists are also expected to be hit with an increase in tax to visit Barcelona as the city aims to reduce the number of visitors in the city.
The ETIAS scheme has also been described as “ one more hurdle” for tourists by travel experts in the UK.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of the Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “Travel as we once knew it has changed forever and the ability to travel freely in a post Brexit era is no longer available to British passport holders.
“The delayed implementation of the new biometric ETIAS until later this year is just another example of one more hurdle and cost holiday makers will have to consider for travel into the EU in future.
“What we do know is that three years later our ability to travel frictionlessly has been taken away. Covid masked much of the Brexit impact for travellers and no more visa-free travel for Brits across the European Union highlights yet another hurdle to navigate.
“We will be making sure that our agents are fully aware of the ETIAS requirements for UK visitors to the E.U. and our advice to consumers would be to book through a travel agent who are able to support customers in navigating complex booking processes and ensure they are up to date on all travel requirements.”
Additonal reporting by Rita Sobot
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