Tourist tax isn’t a new concept, but so far visitors to the UK have narrowly escaped this extra holiday cost. In October last year, some Scottish councils launched discussions to impose an additional charge on tourist accommodation. So how much does the average tourist pay now?
Europe is well known for charging a tourist tax in most of its countries. Some charges apply only to cities, whereas others are country-wide. The UK and Ireland, are a couple of exceptions to tourist tax charges as are Cyprus and Luxembourg in central and southern Europe. And Finland, Sweden, Latvia, and Estonia in the northern belt.
Some of the most famous cities like Vienna, Salzburg, Budapest and Amsterdam, base the nightly tourist tax charge on a percentage basis. Amongst them is the capital of Paris, who add an extra levy of 10% to the bill for over 18’s booking accommodation in its historic centre.
Tourist tax charges throughout France vary according to the type of accommodation and start from 17p to over £3 per person, per night. Five star accommodation doesn’t come cheap in Rome either. Here customers face charges of up to £6 per person, per night in the city’s best hotels unless they are under ten.
Last year Greece added itself to the list of countries and introduced a new rising scale of tourist tax. As did Barbados, who now join the USA and the United Arab Emirates as long haul destinations who add a tourist based tax to your final bill.
Pros and cons
You could look at tourist tax as a positive way to spend your holiday money. The funds raised from this tax are often used to help protect the environment where you stay. They boost the local economy, often used to create better more efficient transport infrastructures. Or they can be used to enhance your holiday experience with dedicated tourist facilities and events. In places already over saturated with tourists, the taxes raised by visitors often help relieve the pressures of already overwhelmed public services.
The tourist industry already generates billions every year for many countries. So the concerns for any country looking to change their policy, is will it deter visitors altogether? Indeed, by introducing a tax in already expensive destinations, tourists may reconsider their itineraries and take a chance on lesser-known areas where there are little or no charges. Or they may not.
As far back as 2011, there were rumours of introducing a tourist tax in London, Edinburgh and Cornwall. Thankfully none of it happened, and holidaymakers in the UK have so far escaped this extra expense.
In Europe, the tourist tax mainly applies to accommodation in the most popular cities. However, some rural areas may have no charge at all and campsites are cheap if not free. Food for thought when booking your next holiday and making your pound stretch that little bit further.