Many popular destinations are imposing a tourist tax, which is believed to help manage overtourism.
1. Tourist taxes
The concept of taxing tourists is gaining support with cities like Venice, Amsterdam and Edinburgh having recently joined the ranks of popular destinations imposing a tax. While some tourists may complain about the new tax, others see the point of such initiative which ends up benefiting the local economy and attempts to be a way of tackling overtourism.
Tourism taxes can help us protect the places we love. They can be a powerful tool and a positive thing for everyone – tourists, residents and local businesses.
Justin Francis, co-founder and CEO of Responsible Travel
Local residents in popular destinations, such as Barcelona and Venice, are prime examples affected by the noise and hassle that result from too many tourists: higher rents and prices in restaurants and shops, and pressure on public services. As a consequence, in recent years there has been a growing backlash against tourism driven by locals tired of their homes being swamped and local prices inflated.
London is the latest city to propose the introduction of a tax. Professor Tony Travers from the London School of Economics told Euronews in July that it could be worth “hundreds of millions of pounds” a year. The money could be used to finance public transport services struggling from low commuter levels following the pandemic, Travers said.
Tourism planning must take into account the negatives of higher visitor numbers as well as the positives, and accept that ‘more’ doesn’t always mean ‘better’.
2. Collecting tourist taxes
In most cases the tourist tax is a very modest amount of money, usually less than the cost of a single drink in a local bar. Collecting these taxes is not a difficult process, and they can be easily adjusted for different types of travellers. Despite the little value per tourist, local authorities believe that the tax does bring benefits as a part of the solution to overtourism. However, the tax alone won’t solve the overtourism problem, Responsible Travel notes, adding that the core issue — sustainability — must be addressed.