The first weekend of summer. School is out and it is time to hit the road for the long, fraught and congested drive to the beach.
This summer roughly 42% of the French will actually take a summer holiday – two thirds of holiday makers will be heading for the sea for an average of 10 to 12 days. The average family holiday budget this year is a little over 1300 Euros – the equivalent to a month’s net salary for a factory worker or a clerk.
Fewer and fewer people taking holidays. It’s a far cry form the seventies and eighties when most French families would have a week’s skiing in winter and two or three weeks by the sea in summer . Well, holidays are just too expensive nowadays. Take your family camping on the shores of the Mediterranean for a week and you’ll be spending up to 500 Euros to pitch your tent, and over 1000 Euros for an on site mobile home or caravan. Silly money.
The price of holidays is reckoned to go up on average by 100 Euros per year. Last week though, a government announcement on a sudden increase in the rates of the Taxe de Séjour will mean an unexpected and unwelcome holiday price hike for everyone.
The « taxe de séjour » (tourist tax) is levied locally on all tourists (French and Foreign). On top of their holiday bill, tourists pay a tax of 1.50€ per person per day, to local authorities for the time they are staying at their holiday destination. Kids under 13 are exempt from the tax. Therefore, a family with a couple of teenage kids will pay an extra 6 euros per day for every day of their stay – meaning an extra 80 Euros or so on top of the existing holiday bill. The money levied is used by resorts to help finance extra seaonal demands placed on their local infrastructures by the influx of summer vacationers.
Just last week, the government announced a massive hike in the seasonal tourist tax from the seemingly meagre 1.50 Euros to a massive 8 Euros, though a government spokesman later sought to calm the ensuing public outcry by saying that 8 Euros was simply a maximum limit to which local authorities could eventually raise their local tourist tax. Reports suggest that the authorities in some resorts will merely double or triple the existing rate, meaning that tourists will only pay between 3 Euros and 4.50 Euros per day per person for this year’s summer break – but imagine our family of four – mum, dad and two teenage kids over the age of 13 – this means depending on the increase, an extra 168€ to 250€ on the price of a fortnight’s holiday. Indignant screams and howls from all owners of holiday accommodation from B&B’s to campsite and hotels. Also cries of anguish from restaurant owners. Who’s going to take their family out for a holiday meal that might cost around 15 to 20 Euros a head, when they are going to face a whacking tourist tax rise?
The minister who announced the tourist tax rise was more than unfortunate in his choice of wording, when he said that Rich Russian tourist staying in five star hotels on the Côte d’Azur would hardly notice the change. He is probably right, however, middle income families will certainly feel the impact of any rise on their already tight holiday budgets. So, less eating out, fewer visits, holiday spending will probably be trimmed down to the last ice cream .
Hey, why not just stay at home ? Why pay two lots of tax ? I mean not only xwill you still be paying rent, rates, council tax and so forth on your empty house while you are away, you will also be paying the tourist tax on holiday for the privilege of living somewhere else. That’s mad. So stay home. Sit in the garden. Catch up on some sleep. Catch up on all those odd jobs you’ve been putting off all year. Do local visits to those places you never visit because they are local. Be a staycationer – Yes, that is this year’s big, stylish holiday trend. Stay at home.