The dreaded tourist tax

Isabel Ellis shares her thoughts on tourist taxes; do they work?

Isabel Ellis
3rd March 2020
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We all thought Brexit would be the biggest disaster of 2020, little did we know, some European countries were plotting a something much worse… Tourist tax. 

I’m sure many people have experienced the bane of an Amsterdam trip when they get to their hotel to discover they have to pay an additional 7% on your already expensive central hotel. But no, if that wasn’t bad enough, on top of that 7% tourists will have to pay an extra 3% per night as of 1st January 2020. And as for all you frugal Airbnb users, this tax also applies to you too! There is literally no escaping it, I’m afraid.

Although tourist tax seems very much like a thing of the present as 2020 has been branded “the year of tourist tax”, it has actually been around for many years now, in fact, more than 150 countries worldwide have begun to impose the tax such as France, Bhutan and even Japan.

But why the increase in tax you may ask? As reported in The Telegraph, a spokesperson for Amsterdam’s deputy mayor has noted that actually the tax isn’t to keep tourists away (something I am finding very hard to believe I might add). The reason for the increased tax in terms of Amsterdam is to attempt to break up the flow of tourism plainly named “over-tourism” and to help contribute to the overall upkeep of the city.

However, cities such as Venice make it no secret that the increased tax is to combat chronic over-crowding in an already crowded city. In fact, Venice is being particularly strict on initiating tourist tax as even day-trippers will be charged €10 during peak periods.

As for Amsterdam, with a population of a mere one million, they received over 19 million tourists within the year of 2019. Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema expects this figure to rise to around 29 million by 2025. Thus, perhaps tourist tax will be a blessing to the city as opposed to a financial curse.

Although I’m a traveller who loves a good bargain and avoids any optional extra costs like the plague, I do believe that tourist tax will overall benefit the cities that choose to impose them; it truly would be a shame for their demise to be at the hands of over-tourism. So next time you choose to visit one of these cities, don’t forget to bring an extra bit of cash to cover the taxes!

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