Never mind the tourist tax, by the time the European Union has finished with its new green tax on aircraft and British travel agents win their battle to raise surcharge limits, coming on holiday to the Balearics, or to any where else will be a costly affair. The European Union green tax, which airlines have said they will have to make their passengers meet the cost, will put an extra £15 on a holiday and if British travel agents get their way, holiday prices will rise by as much as another £15. The proposals, put forward by the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), which has adamantly opposed the Balearic tourist tax, would add between £5 and £15 per person to a holiday though not to holidays already booked. Current regulations restrict the amount tourists can be surcharged and how late before a holiday charges can be levied -- one of the cards the tour operators tried to play to block the tourist tax being charged this year. Present rules forbid operators imposing surcharges within 30 days of a holidaymaker's departure. And operators cannot pass on any increase at all until they first absorb an amount equivalent to 2 per cent of the cost of the particular holiday. Abta wants the 30-day rule changed to 20 days and the 2 per cent rule scrapped. The Spanish Association of Airlines, which represents 90 per cent of the country's airlines, yesterday complained about the high extra costs its members are having to pay because of taxes. A spokesperson said that the airlines are paying the Spanish Airport and Air Traffic Control authority AENA the equivalent of 160 taxes. Airport taxes were increased by the Spanish government at the start of year, despite opposition from a struggling airline industry. The association believes that the way they are being taxed is unfair and has asked AENA, in turn to improve the quality of its services, so at least the airlines and the travelling public are getting their money's worth. AENA says that airport taxes have been frozen since 1998 and this only increases landing and passenger taxes in accordance with EU directives.

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