LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA – Many tourist destinations in Spain are considering or have already introduced a tourist or eco tax. The Canary Islands previously rejected such a tax. However, the government is now considering a levy for protected nature reserves.
The regional Minister of Tourism and Employment, Jessica de León, announced this in an interview with the program ‘Canarias en Abierto’ on Cadena SER. De León states that it would “make sense” for this potential levy to be collected by the local governments of each island. She refers to the model of the Arts, Culture and Tourism Centres (CACT) in Lanzarote. Here, both tourists and residents pay an entrance fee to visit a protected nature reserve, such as the Timanfaya National Park.
Proceeds go to water purification, waste management and maintenance
“If the government were to levy the tax and then give it to the local authorities, I think it would be more effective if those authorities themselves determine which nature reserves are taxable,” De León explains. She adds that proceeds can be used for “water treatment, waste management, cleaning, trail maintenance and providing more information about the nature reserve.”
Conservation of natural areas
The minister indicates that the purpose of the possible tax is to preserve the natural areas of the island. This is important because the Canary Islands are not only a tourist destination, but are also home to unique ecosystems.
Reaction from tourists
Tourists react divided to the news. Some think it is a good idea if it helps preserve beautiful nature. However, others fear that this will become an additional cost that they would rather avoid.
Critics point out that introducing such a tax could harm tourism. After all, tourism is one of the most important sources of income for the islands.
Proposal still in research phase
However, De León emphasises that the proposal is still in the research phase. Local governments will have to establish their own tax regulations and determine how the tax is spent. Consequently, for now, it remains a point of discussion in regional politics.