The increase in the tourist tax in hotels creates new and understandable emotions. Yet it was predictable, except by those who should have foreseen it. But the line of defense to demonstrate against this fiscal inflation is very light and amateurist.

And there you have it … hoteliers have been classified with the new standards (80% of hotels in France), many of them have requested an additional star (without enhancing their service and without modernizing their establishment in the majority of cases), they pay for the classification audit (every 5 years) and now they are going to see the tourist tax that they have to charge their customers increase. And we are not talking about the costly regulations that have fallen in recent years and the increase in VAT. Unclassified (20% of hotels), even with rooms at 250 euros (yes, it does exist and we find among them high quality hotels without displaying stars), will have a tourist tax kept at the lowest level.

Hoteliers have had to run after the stars , their chocolate medals, and some are starting to bite their fingers.

And yet, that was to be expected. At a time when the State and the bankrupt communities are looking at all costs for new money and under the blows of repeated victorious announcements as by an indefatigable rural policeman on his drum of “France, the world’s leading tourist destination” , we cannot could not imagine anything other than the creation of new hotel taxes or the increase in existing ones . The ceiling of the tourist tax due by most French and foreign tourists in commercial accommodation (see end of article) will be doubled in this sense.

According to Les Echos , the government has approved this increase in the tourist tax, from one euro to two per night and per person for three-star hotels. The tax ceiling will be raised to € 2.50 for four-star hotels, three euros for five stars and finally € 3.50 for palaces, compared to € 1.50 today. This will potentially affect nearly 50% of overnight hotel stays if we take into account the municipalities that apply them and will bring into public funds at least 600 million additional euros per year. The 1 to 2 star ranges and unclassified accommodation will see their tourist tax remain the same.

For the moment, only the classified hotel industry is affected by this inflationary measure. One can thus wonder why it exclusively and not the other commercial accommodation. We can also regret that the system of rentals of apartments and houses by private individuals such as Airbnb is not affected by these levies, even if the mayor of Paris is talking about taking care of it as soon as possible.

Hotel classification, a false friend
It is, moreover, amusing (if you will) to note that after having encouraged hoteliers to be massively “starred” after the advent of the new classification on the basis of poor promises, the services governments are now passing the bill, knowing however that the mayors remain masters of the implementation of an increase in this tax in their municipality or not. Hoteliers believe they have been deceived – whichthe Committeeannounced in 2009 – and are beginning to understand that the classification of their establishment induces very perverse disadvantages.

All the more so as customers generally no longer look at the stars in their hotel requests, but at prices, and the volume of overnight stays received in French hotels has been the same since 2008 (approx. 197 million). The ranking has not changed or improved anything, except to cost more to the hosts.

At the same time, all is not so dark: the tourist tax can be presented separately and taken out of the selling price of the room. This small part will escape the commissions of intermediaries and VAT. In addition, it is in Paris well below the 8 euros initially wanted by the town hall, even if the latter has not said its last word.

Obviously, faced with this government project which requires only an implementing decree, the hotel unions have once again been picking up. Never at the forefront of information, they discovered the project in an economic newspaper even before holding a meeting with the ministry in charge of tourism on the subject. Question lobbying and influence in the ministerial corridors, we will come back. They who thought they were on good terms with the super-minister Laurent Fabius, who fell in love with tourism late in the day, are at their cost. They see once again that their credibility is close to zero and that no one wants to play the game of consultation with them.

Amateurist trade union action
More generally, we see – as in most of the other cases they deal with – their lack of preparation and their naivety, presenting as always a retrograde and corporatist attitude, advancing untruths and last-minute threats that undermine the defense of the interests of the profession.

Vexed at having been neglected, but they should be used to it now, the professional hotel organizations – mainly the Umih – promise war, including abandoning the ranking. This is of course a bluff because they have no control over the behavior of the profession, as at the time of the drop in VAT in catering. Their government interlocutors know this very well. They who were so “fan” of the new classification and who found so many virtues in it, are now ready to “begonize” like a common fly.

And here too, as usual, the hotel unions put forward arguments that do not hold water and which end up ridiculing them to the public authorities, but also to the general public. And all this is not good for the image to the sector which did not need it.

For example: “The raising of the ceiling of the tourist tax will produce a rise in prices and will drive away tourists”. Who will believe this nonsense that a euro increase in the tourist tax per guest on a room price of € 85 in 3 stars (outside Paris) will have this effect? And above all, with the seasonalization of rates and the magical yield management, hoteliers have become accustomed to raising their prices overnight by 30%, 60%, 100%, or even tripling them (at Paris)! Isn’t this rather what scares tourists away and discourages them from choosing hotels for their future stays in favor of other forms of accommodation? This is called shooting yourself in the foot.

“By targeting the three stars, we are attacking the core target of the French hotel industry, which is not frequented by tourists but mainly by French customers”, we could also hear from representatives of the hotel industry. The “majority” hardly is, since French customers are only 60% of the entire fleet of 3 French stars.  

And let’s not talk about the improbable report served by Alliance 46.2 launched by the major tourism groups, including Accor at the head, supposed to denounce any risk of an increase or the creation of a new tourist tax. A CM2 student would immediately see the study of convenience sewn with white thread and the fat trickery: see our article on the subject.

The hotel unions may repeat in vain that the legislator and the government do not understand anything about the specificities of the hotel industry, but they really do nothing to achieve that this changes and that the sector is understood. The opportunistic day-to-day strategy – if you can call it a strategy – has never worked.

Fiscal instability

Of course, hotel operators are fed up with the permanent instability in the decisions of successive governments and the lack of fiscal visibility . But the increase in the tourist tax does not represent a threat to their business and will only make them have to collect and donate a little more money to the community, which is always good for the cash flow.

Of course, everyone would have preferred this increase not to take place; but the profession must also understand that it must show solidarity in the face of the country’s economic situation if it is to be respected. It has its own problems which the Committee explains moreover through time, polls and studies (see also ourWhite Paper on Hotel and Tourist Modernization ). But no more than most French SMEs. Especially since the price explosions displayed in hotels in large cities are less and less accepted by customers , who see it as a contradiction with the not always justified crying of hoteliers.

The tourist tax must be paid by the tourist staying in one of the following accommodation: hotel, tourist residence, furnished tourist accommodation, bed and breakfast, holiday village, campsite (or caravan site), marina , other type of accommodation (eg youth hostel, thermal hospital). It is due per person and per night. It is paid directly to the landlord, the hotelier or the owner who transfers it to the municipality. This tax is – in principle – used for the benefit of equipment and tourist attendance, but no one can be sure. The current rate varies from € 0.20 to € 1.50 per person per night, depending on the type of accommodation and its standard. See on the Public Service website .

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