The Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) of Abu Dhabi has announced that event organisers will no longer be subject to the tourism tax.
1. Events tourism tax
Until now, event organisers in Abu Dhabi had to pay a 10% tourism tax for every sold ticket. As of 3 March, the tax had been scrapped by the emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism with the purpose of developing and elevating the quality standards of the tourism industry in Abu Dhabi.
For further support to the investment environment in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, it has been decided to exempt event organisers from the tourism fee of 10% on tickets sold.Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism
The exemption applies for issuing, distributing and marketing event tickets, as long as organisers obtain event licenses in accordance with the regulations specified for this purpose. Additionally, they are obliged to declare the revenues generated from these events, submit supporting financial statements and cooperate with revenue auditors or individuals designated by DCT Abu Dhabi to validate the accuracy of their declarations.
2. Tourist taxes in Abu Dhabi
While events are no longer subject to the tourism tax, visitors might still be surprised by price differences when they arrive in Abu Dhabi. Hotels are not obliged to list net prices and the fees they apply can mount up to a 26% price increase. These include the UAE-wide taxes: 5% VAT, 10% property service charge and 6% tourism fee, but also the 4% municipality fee and AED 15 per night per room for the destination fee.
Except for the destination fee, hotel restaurants also apply all of these charges, which may or may not be included in the prices shown on menus. While the menus should explicitly state if the prices include the taxes or not, tourists might have to do a little math to figure out how much they actually have to take out of their wallet for a meal.
For restaurants that are not associated with hotels, only the 5% VAT tax applies.
3. Tax refund for tourists
On the other hand, since 2018, overseas visitors can receive a refund on the VAT for goods purchased in the UAE. The Federal Tax Authority launched a 100% digital service for Tax Free shopping, entitling tourists to get back 85% of the total VAT amount paid, minus a fee of AED 4.80 per transaction.
Visitors who apply for the refund must leave the country within 90 days of the purchase date and within 6 hours of completing the request validation process, otherwise the request is cancelled and the procedure must be started again.