Tourist Taxes: A Guide

Tourism taxes are a trend that started in Europe but quickly started spreading across the world. It serves to raise funds to mitigate the adverse effects that tourism has on destinations, as well as reduce visitor numbers.

This tactic is controversial and, arguably, not an ideal solution. However, as it seems to be continuing, your understanding of how these taxes work and what they imply grows in importance.

The Cost of Tourism

Nowadays, people living in high-density destinations are starting to realize that tourism isn’t as benign as it seems. People native to such destinations tend to have an issue with it, and at times, it’s also environmentally sustainable.

Think about it – tourism creates a profit, yes, but it gives very little back to the environment. Travel companies and tourists tend to overlook the fact they’re vacationing in other people’s homes. 

For these reasons, it’s only sensible that introducing tourist taxes gained a lot of support from the locals.

What Are Tourism Taxes?

Tourism taxes are small fees which tend to get paid indirectly to the country through holiday companies. They serve as a countermeasure to the adverse effects of high tourism rates, such as noise, hassle, higher restaurant prices, pollution, and pressure of public services.

Collecting these taxes is quite straightforward. It’s also flexible and adjustable to various types of travelers and the benefits they bring to their destination.

The History of Tourism Taxes

In Europe, these fees have been charged for the past 20 years. The difference is that earlier, they used to be a part of the accommodation price. 

However, with the emergence of B&Bs and apartment stays, things had to change. That’s when the demand for paying when you check out took place.

In general, you’ll pay such a fee if you stay in any type of a touristic residence, vacation home, or any outdoor accommodation. It’s 100% legal for cities and countries to try and alleviate some pressure from the economy through this approach.

Who Pays Them?

Although the fee itself may vary, every tourist pays the tax, apart from some exemptions. These tend to include:

  • children
  • patients in health facilities
  • those who are accompanying disabled persons
  • members of the army
  • those staying in youth hostels
  • bus drivers and tour leaders

Note, however, that these vary from one city to the next. 

How to Pay It?

Most often, this fee doesn’t come as a part of the booking price, but you pay it to your accommodation during check-out.

These fees apply to you personally, and per each day you stay. Most often, you’ll pay it in cash. The price itself, again, depends on many things, including the quality of your accommodation. 

In some cases, if you go for a full-coverage package tour, the charge may already be included in the price. 

What Happens to Collected Tax Revenue?

Each destination’s municipality takes responsibility for the tax in question – they collect and use it. As we mentioned, most of the revenue goes into fixing some economic issues, supporting, and developing the industry.

When it comes to goods and services taxes (GST), it applies nationally to all purchases you make within the country. However, luckily for the tourists, as a non-resident, you may be eligible for a refund.

In most cases, the refund is half of the paid GST and doesn’t apply to the goods you used during your stay and those you’re exporting for commercial purposes. 

Otherwise, the chances are high that you may get back some of the money you got charged, say

The Bottom Line

All in all, tourism taxes are a thing you’ve always been paying, and for a good cause. There’s no reason for you to worry about this tax – it puts minimal pressure on your wallet and helps the destination you love and enjoy. 

So, next time you get asked to pay it, don’t get confused. Clear your bill and enjoy your stay!