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What is Tourist Tax? Why You Have to Pay to Enter these Destinations

Tourist Tax may be a hidden cost in your next overseas trip

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By Condé Nast Traveller Middle East | November 5, 2023 | Travel Leisure

Beware of these hidden costs – these are all of the destinations due to impose tourist tax

The concept of tourist tax isn’t a new one. City tax has long been the norm for many countries in Europe such as Greece, Spain and Germany, and hotel tax is standard across many destinations, including US states. The impact of Covid on the travel industry was severe – hotels, restaurants and hospitality venues closed, people that relied on tourism for their livelihoods suddenly faced huge losses, and money that the government relied on for development and maintenance was depleted. As a result, while travel continues to normalise post-pandemic, many countries have decided to implement a tourist tax to boost economies and reinvigorate locals. Below, we take a look at what exactly tourist tax is, and which countries are introducing the measure for 2024.

What is tourist tax?

Originally, tourist tax was introduced by certain governments with the aim of tempering over-tourism and generating income from large numbers of travellers entering the destination. Bhutan, for example, has asked tourists to pay a significant sum of money to enter since it opened to travellers in 1974. The country uses the tax (called the Daily Sustainable Development Fee) in an attempt to preserve the country’s natural, undisturbed beauty and to protect traditional Buddhist culture. Similarly, Barcelona uses the city’s tourist tax to fund construction and development projects locally – typically it is around €5 per day per person. Most tourist taxes are added onto the cost of your accommodation.

Which destinations will begin imposing tourist taxes in 2024?

Valencia in Spain will impose a tourist tax in 2024. In Italy, Venice will begin charging tourists a fee in 2024. The Indonesian government has announced that a tourist tax will be imposed on travellers visiting Bali from 14 February 2024

In 2024, the UK is imposing a new system called an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), whereby visitors from the US, Europe, Australia and Canada will be required to apply for permission and pay to enter the country.

Next year, the EU will begin implementing a new tourist visa, whereby non-EU citizens travelling from outside the Schengen zone will need to fill out a €7 application to enter the country.

Which destinations currently impose tourist tax?

The below destinations impose tourist taxes on travellers entering the country, but the amount of tax charged changes frequently. We have included some guidance on projected costs, but make sure you check with your accommodation or the tourism board for each destination before travelling to be sure how much you need to pay.

Austria: the cost of tourist tax is typically added onto your accommodation bill, and is around 3.2 per cent in Vienna.

Belgium: in Brussels tourist tax is mainly below £3.50, and is added onto your accommodation bill, but it varies from city to city.

Bhutan: since September 2023, the daily Sustainable Development Fee in Bhutan has dropped to £157 for adults.

Bulgaria: tourist tax in Bulgaria varies on destination and hotel standard, but it is usually below £1.30.

Caribbean Islands: most of the Caribbean islands charge tourist tax, and the price ranges depending on the island – in St Lucia, for example, it is around 8 per cent, whereas in the Dominican Republic it is 18 per cent.

Croatia: the cost of tourist tax in Croatia depends on the season you are travelling in and where you are staying, but it ranges from 20p to 70p per day.

Czech Republic: in Prague, tourist tax typically costs around CZK 50 per night (around £1.71).

France: here tourist tax is based on a municipal rate, but standard cost is between 20p and £4.30 per night.

Germany: it varies from city to city – in Berlin, the standard tourist tax is five per cent of the accommodation price.

Greece: the price you pay in Greece depends on the standard and size of your accommodation. It shouldn’t be more than £3.50 per night.

Hungary: travellers should expect to pay four per cent of the cost of accommodation per night.

Italy: depending on the city, tourist tax can be somewhere between 80p and £6.10 per night.

Japan: if you’re travelling to Japan, expect to pay 1,000 yen (about £5.50) in tourist tax.

Malaysia: in 2023, the cost of tourist tax across Malaysia is £1.68 per night.

New Zealand: travellers visiting New Zealand have to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) which costs $35 NZD (£16.80)

Portugal: this country charges tourist tax in 13 cities, including Lisbon and Porto. The cost is £1.75 per night.

Thailand: the expected tourist tax for travellers visiting Thailand is around (£6.83.

The Netherlands: Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most expensive places for tourist tax – currently the rate states at seven per cent of accommodation price plus a flat rate of €3 (£2.61)per person per night

Switzerland: the price of tourist tax here varies depending on the destination, and it ranges from about CHF 2 (£1.81) to CHF 7 (£6.34) per person per night.

Slovenia: again, the rate changes from destination to destination (it is higher in cities than in more rural areas), but generally the cost is around €3 (£2.61)

Spain: several cities in Spain have recently decided to raise the price of tourist tax, and other cities are in discussions about following suit. In Barcelona, the fee is €4 (£3.48), whereas in the Balearic Islands the fee is between €1 (87p).

USA: when travelling to the USA from the UK, visitors need to apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), which is a type of visa allowing travellers to stay in the country for up to 90 stays. It is valid for two years. The cost of an ESTA is $21 (about £17)