Tourist Taxes in Lisbon Prompt Disagreement

Lisbon City Council has given the green light to a proposal submitted by the Social Democrats, which aims to reduce or eliminate tourist taxes for residents, especially in certain areas that are not known as ‘tourist hotspots.’

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More specifically, the PSD proposal recommended the chamber conduct a study that would update the tourist tax in the city, as the PSD Deputy argues that residents in the Portuguese capital should not be paying tourist taxes at all. Currently, they pay €2 in fees for each night of their stay in accommodation spots, including hotels and local establishments, reports.

Lisbon residents should not have to pay for what results from excess tourism in the city. 

Deputy of Social Democratic Party (PSD), Carlos Moedas

At the presentation of the proposal, PSD argues that the tourist pressure on urban hygiene, maintenance of public spaces, pollution, and noise in the city of Lisbon have accumulated high costs, which must be alleviated urgently.

As the local media, The Portugal News reports, the PSD’s proposal for a study to update the tourist tax in Lisbon received positive feedback, being approved with votes against from PEV, PCP, and Chega, the abstention of BE and IL, and votes in favor by Livre, two independent deputies of Cidadãos Por Lisboa (elected by the PS/Livre coalition), PS, PSD, PAN, MPT, PPM, Aliança and CDS-PP.

The tourist tax in the city of Lisbon was applied on overnight stays by national students, including Lisbon residents, as well as foreigners in hotels and other accommodation establishments, and was implemented initially in January 2016.

While the tourist tax was €1 then, three years later, it was increased to €2 per night. Cruise ship passengers only started paying the fee this year.

Protesting the new and existing taxes, a CDS-PP deputy recommended that the tourist tax be applied at different rates, depending on the city area.

Instead of a generalised and equal update for all tourists who visit Lisbon, perhaps it would be good to move towards a differentiated tourist tax that would take into account, for example, the classification of the areas already established for the attribution of local accommodation licenses, even if adopted. 

CDS-PP Deputy Martim Borges de Freitas

He further argued that tourist taxes should be lower or scrapped entirely in areas with fewer tourist visits, while in areas where tourist pressure is greater, the tourist tax value would be higher.

Maria Escaja, from the BE party, explained why she chose to abstain by saying that the way tourist tax money is spent needs to be revised. She pointed out that only one per cent is used for cleaning the city, while the rest is invested in tourism.

Escaja believes the tourist tax should help reduce the negative impacts of tourism, not just make the tourism industry bigger while PCP deputy Fernando Correira raised the issue that funds are not allocated for the city’s maintenance, saying the money from the tourist tax is not used for such purposes, as it should be.