LISBON, Portugal – Lisbon’s Tourism Development Fund, which is financed by revenue from a tax levied on visitors to the Portuguese capital, is to provide €18.2 million for a range of projects to be completed in the city between now and 2019, officials announced.
Among projects to be financed by the fund – with a total cost of €33.7 million, with the other €15.5 million to come from other sources – is the conclusion of the upgrade of the Ajuda National Palace, the creation of a Jewish Museum in the medieval quarter of Alfama, an Interpretation Centre for the 25 April bridge, a new Sul e Sueste boat terminal in central Lisbon, and the rolling out of the municipal programme to register and protect historic shops.
Another project to be financed by the fund is a centre dedicated to the maritime Discoveries, which will no longer be on the Avenida Ribeira das Naus as originally planned, because of opposition by the national heritage authorities, but at another location that is yet to be decided.
“The projects that we are presenting here today are of enormous significant for the city of Lisbon, with an enormous capacity to increase our attractiveness, but above all our quality of life,” the mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina said at a ceremony to present the strategy of which the projects form a part.
There are also plans for improvements to signs for tourists, closed-circuit video cameras in areas popular with tourists, more events on the city’s main axis from Avenida da Liberdade to Campo Pequeno) and further analysis of plans to create a major new congress center.
The municipal tourist tax was approved by the city council in 2014 and has been in force since January, at a rate of €1 per head per night, up to a maximum of €7. According to figures provided to Lusa, in the first seven months of the year the council has raised €7 million from the tourist tax on overnight stays – just short of the amount originally projected for the whole year.
In its budget for 2016, the council estimated total revenue from the tax of €15.7 million, with half of that to come from overnight stays and the rest from levies to be slapped on arrivals by air and by sea. It has not yet been decided how this will be implemented.
“A little over year ago the city was debating, in lively fashion, the question of the famous tourist tax [and] many warned of the risk … that the introduction of these measures could kill the goose that laid the golden eggs,” Medina said. “What this day today shows is that all those that thought in that way were, fundamentally, wrong.”
Lisbon, along with several other parts of Portugal, has been enjoying an unprecedented boom in tourism, but many locals have expressed fears about the impact on the city’s infrastructure and character, and the lives of permanent residents.