The governor of Baja California Sur intends to enact a controversial new 350-peso (US $16) tax on tourists coming from abroad and staying for more than one day.
Governor Carlos Mendoza’s reasoning is that the state has to find additional means to increase its income during times of crisis.
He expects to collect up to 525 million pesos (US $24.5 million) a year with the measure.
To justify it, Mendoza points to the poor quality of life for many people in municipalities such as Los Cabos, a situation that cannot be compared with the economic growth in tourist areas.
“We have neighborhoods that I call “Cardboard-land” in the Los Cabos area. Cardboard houses, no sewage, no running water, that’s the reality for those people living there,” said a local Deputy from the National Action Party, which is that of the governor.
“That is so not because things aren’t done, it’s simply that the budget falls very short with respect to the zone’s growth,” said Alejandro Blanco.
Blanco is a member of the Association of Hoteliers in the state and owner of the iconic Hotel California in Todos Santos.
While he acknowledged that the state must find additional sources of income, the legislator abstained from voting on Mendoza’s proposal because the governor didn’t consult with the state’s hotels before introducing the new tax.
A group of over 70 hoteliers from Los Cabos have obtained legal orders, or are in the process of doing so, as a means to spare them from having to collect the tax.
Hoteliers have accepted that the state must find new sources of income but “we do not believe this is the best way to do it,” said the hotels association president.
“Guests will not only feel that we’re trying to squeeze the last cent out of them, but they will also feel discriminated against because this is a discriminatory tax . . . that they’re not charging domestic tourists,” said Enrique Turcott.
He suggested it must be considered alongside what he called “the Trump effect,” and could become a tool to be used against the state in recommendations that U.S. President Donald Trump might make regarding travel outside the U.S.
The governor, his party and political allies believe the new tax will have no impact on foreign tourism.
“I don’t think that this 15 or 16 dollars will scare tourists away, when they spend that on chewing gum . . . .” said Labor Party Deputy Camilo Torres.
The U.S. and Canada supply 70% of the state’s tourists; the remaining 30% come from South America and Europe.
Seventy per cent of the population depends on tourism and 80% of that number live in Los Cabos.
The tax is the first of its kind in any state in Mexico. How it will be collected has yet to be defined.
Source: Milenio (sp)