France

French Foreign Minister Fabius wants tourist tax rise scrapped

Tourists in front of the Eiffel Tower - France is the world's most popular tourist destination but only the third earner from the trade
Tourists in front of the Eiffel Tower - France is the world's most popular tourist destination but only the third earner from the trade AFP

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius has called on parliament to reverse its decision to allow local councils to hike taxes on hotel guests, claiming it will torpedo his efforts to boost the tourist trade.

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Fabius judges it “imperative” that MPs scrap the decision, a statement by the foreign affairs ministry issued on Sunday said.

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On Wednesday the lower house of parliament accepted an amendment, moved by a member of the ruling Socialist Party, to allow local councils to slap a tourist tax of up to eight euros on the renting of hotel rooms.

On Thursday it created a two-euro-a-night tourist tax for the Ile de France region around Paris in order to fund public transport.

The measure, which would start on 1 September, is expected to raise 140 million euros a year.

But Fabius is furious, pointing out that the World Economic Forum placed France bottom of its league table of value for money in tourism.

The decision was taken without consulting the industry, he says, and contradicts parliament’s plan to overhaul taxation on tourism.

Fabius took on the tourism brief in the latest government reshuffle and has pledged to boost the trade, which earns 9.7 per cent of France’s GDP.

The main hotel owners’ union, Umih, attacked the MPs’ decision on Thursday, claiming it meant a 500 per cent rise in tourist tax.

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