Overtourism. The word itself is in danger of being overused already. 2023 saw destination after destination introduce measures to deal with the threats of an overly successful tourism sector set to engulf certain cities, islands and iconic sights.
Problems that come with too many tourists range from the practical, such as crowding, safety implications, littering and environmental concerns, to the cultural and existential, such as anti-social behaviours, unaffordable accommodation costs for locals, and the loss of a sense of identity and authenticity for some places.
For many local authorities, the answer has been the tourist tax. Some destinations have had these in place for some time in the shape of small charges added to hotel or airline bills. While many of the fees being introduced are too cheap to have any significant deterrent effect on tourist numbers, the levies raised from visitors help fund infrastructure and management costs, or can be put towards improving local residents’ lives. Here’s a round up of where you can expect to pay a tourist tax in 2024.
Anyone staying overnight in official accommodation pays a “Tourismusgesetz” tax that changes from province to province. In tourist favourites like Vienna or Salzburg, those charges are around 3% extra on your hotel bill.
Bali introduced a tourist tax of €8.80 in February to be charged on arrivals at Ngurah Rai International Airport in booths or via an app. The aim is to protect the destination’s environment, nature and culture.
Applicable to every night of any stay, Belgium’s tourist tax is usually wrapped up in the rate you pay for your room, but, in a typically Belgian surreal style, the exact mechanism can vary from city to city and from hotel to hotel, depending on star rating and facilities. Expect to pay around €7.50.
Bhutan’s tourist tax is one of the most extortionate anywhere, costing around €228 per head per day in high season. Is it justified by everything (Sustainable Development Fee, accommodation, transport, guidance, food, and entry fees) it includes? You decide.
Tourists must pay to access Bulgaria’s mountains, beaches and fascinating cities through another “overnight stay” tax, but frankly it seems a bargain at only €1.50.
The majority of Caribbean islands put their tourist taxes onto the cost of your hotel. It’s around €13 in the Bahamas and up to €45 in Antigua and Barbuda. Sometimes it’s only applied when you leave (which begs the question – why would you want to?)
Only applicable in the “high” or summer season, Croatia’s tourist tax is around 10 kuna (€1.33) per person per night.
As long as you stay away from Prague, you won’t have to pay the Czech tourist tax, but why would you want to miss out on such a gem of a city when the cost (for adults only) is less than a euro per person per night?
As usual, the tourist tax situation is a bit bureaucratic in France and the term “’taxe de séjour” is likely to induce shudders from anyone who has ever stayed any length of time there. Varying from city to city and up threefold in this Olympic year, it can cost anything from from an extra €0.75 to €15 per night on top of your bill.
Germany’s so called “kulturförderabgabe”, applies in the country’s major cities and is usually five per cent on top of your hotel bill.
From around €4 per room, like Belgium, Greece’s charges depend on hotel star ratings or the number of rooms you’re renting, but after a disastrous year of heavy rains and scorching droughts, a new “climate crisis resilience fee” for tourists is coming in 2024, ranging from €1.50 to €10 , depending on accommodation, quality and the time of year, according to government sources. In low season, the fee will be capped at €4.
In Hungary you’ll pay four per cent on hotel room costs, but only in capital Budapest.
Iceland is having a tourism boom and brought back its tourist taxes on at the start of 2024. Hotels and guesthouses charge an extra €4, camping will cost you a €2 fee and cruise ships that stop in Icelandic ports will cost their guests €7.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Italy’s tourist taxes vary wildly depending on which part of the country you’re in. From €3 to €7 per night depending on room type in Rome, to as low as €1 per night in Sicily.
Unlike many places which charge for overnight stays, Venice is introducing a trial fee on daytrippers instead this year. Those who stay overnight in the city will be exempt.
Like some Caribbean islands, Japan charges on departure. Expect to pay around €8 when you leave the country (and don’t forget, for some tourist experiences, such as hiking Mount Fuji, Japan has now decided enough is enough and is introducing access fees.)
Malaysia’s tourist tax is a simple case applying around an extra €4 a night.
Whether you’re a tourist, student or worker, if heading to New Zealand be sure to budget for the €21 “International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL)”. That is unless you’re Australian – in which case, no charge.
The Netherlands applies land and / or water-based charges, depending on you’re mode of transport and visit, by boat or by land. Rising from seven per cent of hotel charges in Amsterdam to 12.5% in 2024, it will be one of the harshest tourist taxes in Europe.
From fishing towns like Olhão, to the cities of Porto, Lisbon and Faro, Portugal’s per person per night tax sits at around €2 per night for high season (April to October) stays, applicable for the first week and so capped at €10 per trip.
The tourist fees in Slovenia again depend on accommodation and location. Cities and popular resorts charge more than other places, with Ljubljana and Bled at around €3.
Spain’s tourist taxes hover around €1 and €4 per day for anyone aged 16 or over and apply to holiday accommodation rooms and rentals in the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera) and, now, various other regions and cities, including from some time in 2024, Valencia. The Valencian Tax on Tourist Stays (IVET) will see visitors charged between 50 cents and €2 per night for up to a week. Those on cruise ships will pay €1.50 per day. It will go towards sustainability measures in the tourism sector and helping locals with housing in tourism hotspots.
After an increase to Barcelona’s tourist tax to €2,75 in 2023, another increase is due on 1 April 2024, taking the levy up to €3.25. Anyone staying in officially registered tourist accommodation is subject to the tax which goes towards infrastructure and maintenance.
If staying less than 40 days, Switzerland will charge you between €2,15 to €7,50 per person per night depending on where you stay.
A fee to make tourists think twice about the consequences of their behaviour is underway.
Abu Dhabi hotels add around six per cent on hotel bills, as well as a set charge of €3,79 per room, per night. In Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, the quality of accommodation dictates the fee (from around €1,77 to €1,09 per night).
The USA’s hotel tax or lodging tax or occupancy tax is not set federally but from State to State and is applicable in many States and cities across the nation. San Francisco’s rate will set visitors back around 16.25 per cent on top of hotel bills. Don’t forget that shops often do not show the full price of goods including tax until you get to the check out, and that restaurant staff (including automated machines!) expect to be tipped and will often aggressively ask to be tipped if guests fail to add money to bills.
The US also charges for visas and visa waiver equivalents, which vary for citizens of different countries. Coming from the UK for example, visitors must gain a €19,50 ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), allowing 90 day stays and valid for two years.
Special mention: visa entry fee
European Union (EU)
The EU is set to implement a new tourist visa by 2025, though it has been dogged by delays. Visitors from outside the Schengen zone will be obliged to pay for a €7 application to enter the region, whichever member country they are coming to.
In 2024, the UK is bringing in an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system, charging US, European, Australian and Canadian visitors a fee and making them apply for permission to enter the country.