Destinations that will charge extra tourists to visit in 2022
Thailand will join an ever-growing list of destinations that charge tourists extra fees for their visit. Photo / 123rf
A trip to Thailand is about to get more expensive for travellers, 300 baht (NZ$13) more expensive, to be exact.
The tourist tax will be charged from April this year and will help move the country towards a more environmentally friendly and high-value tourism model.
Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasor said the money would be spent on local projects supporting the goal.
“We hope this fund will support an overhaul of national tourism creating safer and cleaner places,” he said.
Tourist taxes around the world
When it comes to tourist taxes, Thailand is lagging behind. Other equally popular destinations around the world have long charged travelers extra fees for the sake of visiting.
Countries like Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands as well as the United States, Scotland, Mexico and dozens of Caribbean countries impose tourist taxes.
If you can’t remember pulling out your wallet to pay a tourist tax, it’s probably because most countries simply add it to the cost of a plane ticket or hotel bill. .
In New Zealand, people visiting for travel and working holidays as well as some students and workers must pay a $35 international visitor conservation and tourism levy.
However, the cost is low compared to Bhutan’s charges of $295-370 per day.
The fee covers accommodation, food, entrance fees, a guide and in-country transportation, but also ensures that the country is never overrun by typical budget travelers, who spend as little as possible while still seeing as much as they can.
This, combined with Bhutan’s infamous tourist cap, means that those who visit are treated to a destination relatively free of traces of over-tourism.
The reasons for a tourist tax
Tourist taxes can be commonly discussed as a way for popular destinations to finance the protection and regeneration of their natural and social environment, but it is not the only motive.
Writing for Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), Managing Director Chris Roberts said taxes are also used to regulate tourist behaviour/quantity, fund Covid-19 relief packages, regional marketing or research or simply provide additional income.
“A well-designed tourist levy can be a practical and meaningful tool in the sustainable management of a destination,” Roberts writes, suggesting that New Zealand’s International Visitor Levy is a good example.
Are tourist taxes elitist?
After the mayor of Venice introduced a €10 entrance fee in 2018, one resident told CNN “Venice is being swallowed up by tourists, and we need to reduce the number of day-trippers in favor of more skilled tourism – let’s call it ‘luxury’ tourism.”
Back in Thailand, Yuthasak was equally blunt in saying the additional tax would not be a problem for the “quality market” their new tourism industry was trying to attract.
Last March, New Zealand Tourism Minister Stuart Nash told RNZ that visitors spending as little as $10 a day were “not really the kind of tourists we want”. Instead, Nash said they were interested in “high value” tourists.
Nash was careful to clarify that a high-value visitor did not necessarily mean someone with high wealth or net worth.
His distinction is fair – people who are generally not wealthy often save and spend a lot while on vacation. However, it seems likely that, for the most part, those who spend a lot are people who can usually afford it.
The subject of tourist taxes often leads to accusations of elitism, as these costs can further prevent people from affording to travel.
However, charging or limiting tourists simply recognizes that the burden of tourism should not be borne by the people or environment of the destination, but by the visitors themselves.
Despite cheap flights and an accessible world, our right to travel should never trump the right of local people or natural environments to thrive.
Which countries charge tourists?
Austria — A lodging tax for the night is often included in the hotel bill in addition to 3.02% per person.
Belgium — The tourist tax is applied to accommodation per night; although the rules vary from city to city, it will be around €7.50.
Bhutan — The minimum rate per day in Bhutan is 250 USD in high season and covers accommodation, transport, guide, food and entrance fees.
Bulgaria — Tourists are charged for overnight stays. This varies by area and hotel class, but is around €1.50.
Caribbean Islands — Most islands add taxes to your hotel charges or departure fees ranging from €45 in Barbuda and Antigua to €13 in the Bahamas.
Croatia — The tax was increased in 2019 to €1.33 per person per night and only applies in summer.
Czech Republic — You will only pay a fee if you are visiting the capital Prague and you are over 18 years old. Charges are less than €1 per person per night.
France — The “tourist tax” is added to the hotel bill and varies from €0.20 ($0.3) to around €4 ($6.7) depending on where you are.
Germany — Always more efficient, Germany charges two taxes, a “cultural tax” and a “bed tax” in certain cities, which often represent 5% of your hotel bill.
Greece — If you stay at a five-star resort, you will pay more tourist tax in Greece, where it is calculated based on the star rating of the hotel or the number of rooms you rent. Costs are often around €4 ($6.7) per room.
Hungary — Budapest is the only city in Hungary with a tourist tax which corresponds to an additional 4% of the price of your room per night.
Indonesia — When visiting the Bali hotspot, you will pay a one-time fee of €9 ($15), which is to protect Balinese culture and surroundings.
Italy — Rates depend on where you are; Rome will cost you €3-7 ($5-12) per night depending on your room, but apparently smaller towns charge more. Meanwhile, Venice could introduce its own separate tax later this year.
Japan — You will pay this tax of 1,000 yen (about $13) upon exit.
Malaysia — Applied per night of stay, this flat rate tax is often around €4 ($6.7) per night.
New Zealand — Travelers, working holiday visitors, students and some workers will be charged a one-time fee of $35. Our Australian friends get in for free.
The Netherlands — Like Germany, this region administers two taxes; a tourist tax on land and a tourist tax on water. In Amsterdam, this looks like an additional 7% charge on the cost of the hotel room.
Portugal — This tax is charged per night and per person for visitors aged 13 and over. Only €2 ($3.4), it will only apply for the first seven days of your stay.
Slovenia — Depending on the location and hotel rating, you will pay higher charges in popular major cities like Ljubljana and Bled by around €3 ($5).
Spain — People aged 16 and over traveling to islands such as Ibiza, Mallorca, Formentera and Menorca will have to pay a tax which peaks at €4 ($6.7) per night during high season.
Switzerland — The amount you pay depends on the location but is often around €2.20 ($3.7) per night per person.
United States — Most states charge an occupancy tax, which applies to travelers who rent in hotels, motels, and inns. The highest rate is said to be Houston, which accounts for 17% of the hotel bill.