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Private Holiday Rentals Main Reason Behind Tourist Tax Shortfall, Minister Says As He Promises Improved Enforcement ‘Next Year’

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Unregulated private accommodation is the main reason behind shortfall in the eco-contributions collected by tourists visiting Malta, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi claimed when speaking to Lovin Malta.

“The reality is that is fairly simple to collect the eco-tax from hotels, the biggest challenge remains to be non-collective accommodation like holiday apartments,” Mizzi told Lovin Malta

Lovin Malta approached the Minister after noticing that while the government has collected close to €10 million from the eco-tax since its inception, it falls far short of what is expected when compared to the tourist numbers.

“Regrettably Malta has a poor record when it comes to enforcement of regulations, in all sectors of the economy,” MHRA President Tony Zahra had told the newsroom. “Consequently, we have a very unhealthy situation where payment of eco-tax is virtually ‘optional’.” 

Mizzi revealed that in an attempt to curb the avoidance, the government intends to seek further agreements, similar to one it recently reached with www.booking.com.

At the start of July, only MTA-licensed Maltese holiday rental properties were allowed to offer their services on the popular website. While websites such as Airbnb are yet to sign a similar agreement, Mizzi remains hopeful that this will soon change. 

While Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that legislation for the industry would soon be introduced, Mizzi was coy on a date and what the laws would entail, saying:

“The customer always needs to be given a choice over where they can say”

MTA Executive Chairman Gavin Gulia echoed the concerns, but spoke about growing efforts to enforce the sector. 

“We will step up enforcement in a big way next year,” he said

This statement spurred further questioning about the Park Hotel in Sliema, which was recently closed down following a number of complaints. Gulia said that while the Park Hotel was the only one that suffered closure, the MTA had issued a number of “soft” enforcements “every day”.

“We identify the issues and the operators cooperate,” he explained. “Unfortunately [the Park Hotel] resisted us in court.”

Gulia added that the tourists due to stay at that hotel have all been provided with alternative accommodation. 

READ NEXT: ‘Virtually Optional Eco-Tax’ Generates €10 Million In Three Years… But Falls Short When Compared To Number Of Arrivals

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