Why You’ll Pay More and Behave Better When You Travel This Summer - No Paywall | Karta

Why You’ll Pay More and Behave Better When You Travel This Summer

News Jun 4, 2024

A new fee for tourists in Bali. Increased hotel taxes in Amsterdam and Paris. Stricter public drinking rules in Milan and Majorca. As summer approaches, many tourist destinations are implementing measures to control the influx of visitors or to generate more revenue from them.

These changes might be inconvenient for travelers, but typically, the new fees or taxes are a small part of the total travel cost. The aim is to ensure tourism is beneficial for both visitors and locals, says Megan Epler Wood, managing director of the Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program at Cornell University.

“All tourism relies on pristine natural and cultural resources. Protecting these resources is essential for a sustainable tourism industry,” Ms. Epler Wood stated.

In some areas, new fees or rules have faced opposition from residents who worry they might deter tourists, impacting the local economy. However, destinations must address what Ms. Epler Wood describes as “the invisible burden” of tourism, which includes pressures on infrastructure, utilities, housing, as well as the environmental footprint and disruptions to local life caused by tourists.

“When the local community feels overwhelmed, it can negatively affect their interaction with tourists,” Ms. Epler Wood noted. “Delaying action only increases the cost of fixing these issues.”

Here’s what travelers can expect this summer, and where other changes might occur.

New visitor fees

Since February, visitors to Bali have been required to pay a levy of 150,000 Indonesian rupiahs, or about $9.40. The funds will support the preservation of cultural and natural sites on the island, which faces issues like litter, water shortages, and overcrowding. Visitors can pay online before departure or upon arrival at the airport.

Starting Aug. 1, most foreign visitors to the Galápagos Islands, which had a record 330,000 visitors last year, will pay a $200 entry fee, double the previous rate. The revenue will support conservation, infrastructure improvements, and community programs. This is the first increase since the fee was introduced in 1998, according to Tom O’Hara, communications manager for the Galápagos Conservation Trust. The increase aligns with UNESCO’s recommendation for a “zero-growth model” for tourism in the Galápagos.

Bali Tourist Levy
Source: BBC

“It’s a complex issue,” Mr. O’Hara said, noting the fee is seen as a solution to overtourism. However, he added, “there are efforts to reassure the local tourism industry that this won’t harm tourism on the islands.”

In April, Venice introduced a 5-euro fee (about $5.40) for day-trippers on peak days to balance the needs of tourists and residents. However, the fee has faced criticism from locals. “This project is a disaster for us. We are a city, not a park,” said Matteo Secchi, president of Venessia.com, a Venice residents’ association. Mr. Secchi believes a communications campaign would have been more effective.

In Hawaii, Governor Josh Green proposed a “climate impact fee” for visitors, but it was not passed by the State Legislature. However, Governor Green continues to advocate for visitor contributions to help the state prepare for climate-related challenges.

“We need to address this issue,” he said in May, suggesting that $25 per visitor could generate $250 million annually, which could be used for climate disaster preparedness, erosion control, infrastructure improvements, and park protection.

Hotel fees and other taxes get a bump

Hotel taxes, known as occupancy or accommodation taxes, are common in the United States and Europe and were increasing before the pandemic. With tourism rebounding, several destinations have adjusted these taxes to generate more revenue.

In Greece, which also experienced severe wildfires last summer, the government has introduced a climate crisis resilience fee, collected by accommodation providers. The fee will be higher from March to October, up to €10 per night at five-star hotels, and lower during the off-season and at lower-rated hotels. This fee replaces the previous hotel tax, which ranged from €0.50 to €4 per night.

Greece Country Profile
Source: National Geographic Kids

In Amsterdam, the hotel tax increased from 7 percent to 12.5 percent on Jan. 1. Lawmakers also raised the tax on cruise passengers to €14 from €11 per person per night.

Barcelona’s hotel tax rose to €3.25 per night, the final step in a gradual increase that started before the pandemic. The city is also considering further tax hikes for tourist rental apartments and short-stopover cruises. The revenue from the tax funds projects like installing solar panels and air-conditioning in public schools.

With the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Île-de-France region around Paris has introduced an additional tax on top of the usual hotel levy. The new tax will support public transportation. A guest in a five-star hotel now pays €10.73 per night in total tax, while a stay in a two-star hotel incurs a tax of €3.25 per night. This measure was not supported by Paris City Hall, which called it “a democratic power grab” that does not benefit the city. Despite the new tax, public transportation fares will increase during the Olympics, causing discontent among Paris residents.

Introducing new rules

Other tourist destinations are focusing on curbing behaviors that harm the local environment or residents’ quality of life.

In Japan, authorities will cap visitors at Mount Fuji at 4,000 per day and impose a new access fee of 2,000 yen (about $13) for the summit. In Kyoto, the Gion neighborhood’s community council has closed some small roads to tourists due to crowd-related issues in the geisha district.

“We will ask tourists to avoid narrow private streets starting in April,” said Isokazu Ota, a leading council member. “We’re desperate.”

Milan has targeted rowdy visitor behavior with new rules. City leaders have banned outdoor seating after 12:30 a.m. on weekdays and 1:30 a.m. on weekends in some areas. They have also restricted late-night sales of takeaway food and drinks.

In Majorca and Ibiza, parts of the Spanish Balearic Islands, the government has banned late-night alcohol sales and street drinking in areas overrun with drunk tourists. New restrictions have also been imposed on party boats.

“Tourism has negative externalities that must be managed and minimized,” said Marga Prohens, president of the Balearic Islands. Local tourism, she said, “cannot continue to grow in volume.”


Oliver Hughes

Oliver has over 15 years of experience in travel journalism. He focuses on European travel, providing expert reviews of vacation rentals and cultural experiences across Europe.