Azores cruise ship passenger ecotax will not protect environment – CLIA

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The Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, considers the ecotax of three euros per passenger on cruise ships adopted in the Azores to be “a triple taxation” that “will have no impact on environmental protection”.

In a statement, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) recalls that, in the European Union, the pricing of carbon emissions and the imposition of the polluter pays principle will apply to all maritime operators, including cruise ships, from 2024.

That’s why it believes that the eco-tax adopted in the Azores – three euros per cruise ship passenger from January 2025, to promote the “sustainability of the destination” – is “a triple taxation” that will “jeopardise the competitiveness” of the archipelago and “jeopardise the sustained growth of cruise tourism” in the region, where it “directly and indirectly benefits local communities”.

The Azores archipelago “is a valuable destination for the international cruise industry”, points out CLIA’s director for government and European affairs, Nikos Mertzanidis, quoted in the statement.

The ports of the Azores are among the most important for Atlantic crossings, having registered “more than 125,000 passengers and 200 cruise ship calls” in 2022.

According to the association’s figures for 2021, cruise tourism in Portugal will have generated total income of 487 million euros. Today, it directly employs 7,900 people.

The Azorean ecotax will be three euros per “passenger disembarking from a cruise ship calling at the terminals” of the archipelago.

“There is an urgent need to create and apply an environmental tax to mitigate the negative impacts produced by maritime visitors from outside the region, contributing to the development and sustainability of the destination,” reads the regional legislative decree, published on 16 August.

The creation of the ecotax is the result of a PAN initiative, approved on 14 July in the Regional Parliament, with PSD, CDS-PP, BE, PPM, PAN and the independent MP voting in favour, IL voting against and Chega abstaining.

Nikos Mertzanidis described the decision of the Azores Regional Assembly as “unfortunate”, emphasising that the sustained growth of the sector “depends to a large extent on maintaining competitive conditions for cruise tourism operations”.

The tax adopted in the Azores, he adds, “will not reduce emissions – it is the practical work and investments made by the cruise industry that will reduce emissions”.

The sector, he said, “is investing more than 45 billion euros between 2022 and 2028 in new ships with improved environmental performance and is aiming for the entire cruise sector worldwide to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050”.

In the specific case of the Azores, the association says that “in the last two years, almost half of the cruise ships that have visited” the archipelago have been expedition ships, which “scrupulously comply with strict legislation designed to protect the polar regions and nature reserves”.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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