All about Barcelona’s new tourism tax

Barcelona waterfront by Carlos Lorenzo

Tourism is big business in Barcelona, and the topic on everyone’s lips over recent weeks has been the introduction of the controversial nightly tourism tax, which came into place on 1 November 2012. It affects anyone booking holiday accommodation in the city, from luxury hotels to rental apartments to campsites.

We wanted to make sure all of our clients are fully up to speed on what this tax is and how it works. If you have any questions at all, remember you can call our Customer Services team 365 days of the year – they’ll be happy to talk you through everything.

Tax? That sounds ominous! What is it?

Barcelona by Fernando StankunsIt’s a tax that applies to tourists staying in hotels, apartments, cruise liners and campsites. The tax will range from 0.50 euros to 2.50 euros per person, per night depending on the category of accommodation you’re staying in. On the plus side, you’ll only have to pay the tax for the first seven nights of your stay, and children under the age of 16 won’t have to pay at all.

In more good news, it’s reckoned that 91% of accommodation in Catalonia will come under the lowest band of the tax (which is 0.75 euros per person, per night in Barcelona and 0.50 euros per person, per night in the rest of the region). This 91% includes holiday apartments such as the ones we offer here at

So, there’s no real need to be worried about this tax impacting your budget, but if money is a bit tight we offer some fantastic cheap apartments throughout Barcelona.

Why is it being introduced?

The new tax has been approved by the Catalan Government, the Generalitat, which is hoping to collect around 60 million euros from this tax in 2013 alone. Estimates are that around 30% of this will go towards reducing the region’s huge budget deficit. A large percentage of the money will also be invested back into the tourism industry, with the aim of increasing the appeal of Barcelona as a global tourist destination.

What has the reaction been like?

On the whole, reactions have been mixed and a lot of hoteliers, tour operators and other accommodation providers are pretty disgruntled. Understandably, they don’t want people to be put off holidaying in Barcelona, while individual establishments are facing the prospect of having to lower their tariffs to avoid losing out on custom.

Others have taken a different approach to the tax, such as the president of the Guild of Hotels in Barcelona, Jordi Clos. Although unhappy, he has recently said “We understand that, in these difficult times, everyone has to lend a hand”. This is a sentiment that many people in Spain are starting to share, albeit reluctantly, as the grim economic situation really starts to bite.

We’re very keen to get your views on this new tourist tax. What do you make of it? Will it put you off holidaying in Barcelona? Is it unfair, or is it a sensible way to raise revenues in the middle of a crisis? Let us know!


  1. I visited the city sometimes twice a year over the last eight years, therefore supporting the local economy well. This tax is like penalising the people you would want to attract.

    • Thanks for the interesting view Allan,
      You’re totally right in that Barcelona’s economy relies heavily on tourism. Let’s hope this doesn’t drive anybody away from this beautiful city!

  2. I stayed in Rome this year and was subject to this tourism tax. I don’t object to paying it per se, but we weren’t made aware of it until the end of our stay and had run out of euros and had to pay on card! As long as it’s clear and everyone is made aware of it, then I wouldn’t consider it a huge problem. It would be nice if the tax went towards the maintenance of the city for the tourists who are paying it!

    • Hi Sian,
      Yes, it’s interesting to see how it works in other European cities such as Rome.
      And hopefully some of the money raised will go back into making Barcelona even more special for its visitors!
      Thanks for your comment!

  3. I have just booked a holiday in Barcelona for next summer and as it is quite a reasonable amount of money I am happy to contribute to help get Spain into a better financial condition. I know a lot of people have to save hard for their holiday but I think a huge number of Spanish people can’t even afford to go on holiday so I consider myself very lucky.

    • Thanks for the comment Mary-Ellen.

      That certainly is a different way to look at the tax. As we said above, the tax isn’t too much extra compared to before, but every little helps!

      Enjoy your trip next summer!

    • Hi Aljona,

      That’s a good question. The tax will in fact paid by the accommodation providers themselves. And that may mean that tourists won’t even pay the full price of the tax, as many providers will take on some of the burden themselves and only raise their prices a little. If you’re interested in the economics behind it then this is based on the Theory of Tax Incidence .

      But if you’d rather skip the economics lesson (and you may well wish to!) then you can simply enjoy this little bonus that tourists may not even pay all of the tax!

      We hope you enjoy Barcelona when you arrive!


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