The tiny Spanish city set to wage war on tourists with brand new tax

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul1,2024

Another city in Europe is cracking down on tourists, with one tiny tourist hotspot in Spain joining the list with plans to introduce a brand new tourist tax.

The historic city of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, is home to many architectural wonders, including its Catholic Cathedral.

Due to its tiny size, but being a must-see destination for tourists in Europe, this Spanish city plans to introduce financial taxation for all hotels and accommodation.

The city recorded nearly 440,000 pilgrims in 2022, taking the Camino de Santiago, or “Way of St. James” which ends at the shrine of the apostle James in the cathedral, where tradition holds that his remains are buried. It has become a major pilgrimage route from the 10th-century onwards. 

As a result, the city is set to introduce a tourist tax in an effort to curb overtourism. The Cathedral itself is free to enter, but visitors can pay a £10.19 fee to gain full access to the museums, tower and cloister. 

The proposal is for a tourist tax to be put forward to hoteliers in 2025, which could be a nightly fee of between 42p and £2.12 depending on the type of accommodation. 

Spanish officials believe that the tax could raise between £2.1 and £2.5 million per year for the city, which would then be used to maintain the historic centre. 

“I want Santiago de Compostela to stop being just a tourist destination and a theme park,” said the newly-elected mayor Goretti Sanmartin last year according to Europa Press. “I want a Santiago from which there is no need to flee due to uncontrolled tourism. We aspire to… enjoy a rich and prosperous tourism sector but also a comfortable and breathable city.”

She also added that securing housing for locals would also be a priority. 

The idea of a tourist tax was presented to hoteliers by Santiago’s former mayor Xosé Sánchez Bugallo in April, Spanish radio station La Cadena SER reported.

Tourist taxes have been springing up all over Europe in recent months. In April, Venice launched its tourist tax for day-trippers, with visitors required to pay £4.30 for the privilege without staying overnight. The tax is applied to those entering the city between 8.30am and 4pm. The city announced that in the first eleven days – from 25 April to 5 May – they sold 195,000 tickets. It is said to have raised €977,430, or roughly £835,000

The plan to ban cruise ships in Barcelona and Amsterdam has also been floated. In October last year, Barcelona decided to limit the number that could dock, instead forcing ships to stop at a pier half an hour south of the capital. 

At the time, Jaume Collboni, the mayor, said the Catalan capital cannot absorb more cruise passengers after the record 3.5 million in 2023. 

He told Spanish newspaper Ara: “The tourist load that the city has at the moment cannot go up; our policy wants to promote Barcelona as a cruise base, not as a stopover, which is what brings the least value to the city. We are interested in quality tourism.”

Similarly in Amsterdam, the city plans to cut the number of ships that can stop at its main port terminal, it was announced last week. Starting in 2026, the number of cruises that can stop at the terminal will be reduced from 190 today to 100 annually. 

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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