British tourists visiting the Canary Islands in 2019 might be spared the local “VAT” in a bid to fight the possible effects of Brexit.
President Fernando Clavijo says the eight islands, including Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, would be able to do so under a legal agreement which classifies the popular holiday destinations as “an outermost region”. Holidaymakers currently pay seven per cent on certain products and services such as restaurant and bar bills under the tax known as IGIC or the “Canary Indirect General Tax”. A restaurant bill of 80 euros would be 85.60 euros with IGIC added.
Fernando Clavijo told the Spanish press that the Canary Government was studying the withdrawal of the tax for British tourists to make the islands more competitive and produce “better results”.
The reimbursement of IGIC was previously tried with Russian visitors during a special promotion campaign in the Canaries.
Mr Clavijo said the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union would have an impact on the pound and its devaluation, which made it necessary for the Canary Islands to be more competitive for its main tourist issuing market, the British traveller.
To head off any criticism, he warned the Canary Islands had to go “hand in hand” as a society and “fight” in Europe.
Visitor numbers had decreased in 2018, he conceded, but spending power had increased.
This, he said, means that there is less pressure on the territory and more profitability that, in turn, should lead to more employment, more stability and better pay.
The Canaries received about 16 million tourists in 2017, with Brits being the biggest market. Final figures for 2018 have not yet been released but a drop of at least two per cent is expected following a string of record years when Brits were put off going to countries like Egypt and Tunisia for security reasons but which have since bounced back.
It follows calls for British people planning a holiday to Mallorca or Ibiza to be granted a VISA to get into the islands if UK Brexit deal fails.
Worried tourism leaders led the calls.
In Mallorca and Ibiza the travel chiefs criticised the Spanish Government for being “too passive” over the possible detrimental effects of a no-Brexit deal on the islands’ tourism industry.