By Euro Weekly News Media • 01 April 2011 • 16:19
THE NEW smoking laws have had a major negative affect on the profitability of cafés and restaurants throughout Spain. Four years ago, the ineffective legislation demanded by the PSOE forced larger hostelry establishments to either cordon off part of their facilities to separate smokers from non-smokers, close, or adapt a no smoking policy.
The smaller cafés did nothing and business continued as usual until this January. The new law now forbids smoking inside a public place and has forced smokers onto the street or to sit in the provided terraces.
With many cafés facing closure due to lack of custom, Torrevieja’s Town Hall has implemented a plan to give a tax break to downtown establishments during the off-season.
The off-season relates to a six month period from October through to the end of March, so it’s too late for business centres to benefit at the moment but it has been welcomed as a positive move to enable cafés to stay open when the slower and cooler months arrive after the warmer weather finishes.
The new measure has been approved by the Governing Board, amending the Fiscal Ordinance regulating the rate of occupation of public land with tables, chairs, canopies, windshields, canopies, articles of commerce and other similar items. In essence, those with terraces will be allowed a 90% tax saving on their terrace and only have to pay 10% of the normal rate for land they occupy with such items that are placed outside on the road or pavement.
The season’s affected are for the low season periods from October 1 to December 31 and 1 January to 31 March. In total, more then 700 Torrevieja based establishments have an opportunity to save 90% of their taxes for a period of six months per year, until further notice. With the enactment of the smoking ban, and given the widespread crisis being experienced in Spain, the negative impact of the implementation of the Act in the hospitality sector of Torrevieja has been negatively significant. After several meetings between City Hall and the Hospitality Association, in order to try and alleviate as far as possible the impact of the new smoking laws on primarily downtown cafés, the Town Hall has decided to make the change of the Municipal Ordinance.
According to local studies, January sales in the hospitality sector have seen a fall of between 20 to 30% and have already forced the closure of some cafes, who may or may not reopen their doors for Easter!
The Hostilely trade have complained to the PSOE that the act was not thought through and is without any contemplation as to what the economic impact that the ban would have on business. If elected into National Government, the PP has said that they shall review the present legislation.
By Keith Nicol
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