What is tourist tax?

In most popular holiday destinations a tax has been put in place for tourists to pay back to the area. This is called tourist tax or city tax.

Your place of accommodation or tour group should tell you how much this is and will often ask this to be left before the end of your trip. They are then obligated to pay this to their local area’s municipality.

The tax is usually paid by overnight visitors however it is common for places to introduce this for cruise ship visitors and Venice have introduced the tax to day trippers on the weekends too.

Tourist tax helps to pay for the upkeep of the area to compensate for the price of hosting so many tourists.

This tax also helps to make the city more liveable for the local people especially at peak times where overcrowding is common and makes it difficult to live life as usual.


What does tourist tax pay for?

The tax will paying for the cleaning and upkeep of the area due to high volumes of people and traffic the areas will need extra care during and after for maintenance.

Paying for extra transport during high volume times such as extra buses and trains as well as tourist trip buses.

The extra security and staff needed to cater to tourists is also an added expense.

Catalan News reports that Barcelona collects EUR 95 million per year on the tourist tax which sounds like a lot but they spend around EUR 142 million on tourist expenses.

Another reason to charge tourist tax is to limit the number of tourists each year and encourage visiting in off peak times of the year. This would help with sustainability of popular areas and the quality of life for residents.

Paying for the impact of over tourism each year for the upkeep of popular beaches, cities and landmarks is a small price to pay for the opportunity of going to these sights in a preserved state.


Where charges tourist tax?

Bhutan was one of the first countries to introduce a tax for visitors when they opened their doors in 1974. They began this as an entrance fee and have since increased the charge.

Bhutan has the most expensive tourist tax in the world at £78 a night per guest as of May 2024 according to the Independent.

They also cap the number of visitors each year too to preserve the nature and culture of their country.

Spain introduced a tourist tax in 2012 and this year they have increased the charge to cover the price of their growing tourism as well as higher cost of maintenance. Barcelona have increased the charge from EUR3.25 to EUR4 per night, per guest.

Amsterdam is noted to have the most expensive tourist tax in Europe and have increased it again this year from EUR 8 to EUR 11 for cruise ship visitors. For guests staying the night in the city it will cost 12.5% of the price of the accommodation choice.

Most European cities, Caribbean Islands and US states charge a tourist tax. The price varies on region as well as the cost of your room in the destination. Often the city will determine the price depending on the cost of your stay and charge a percentage of the nightly room rate.


Don’t forget to pay the tourist tax before you leave to contribute to your stay and the people who live there.