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What is a tourist tax? Fees for foreign tourists at hot summer destinations

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(NEW YORK) — Barcelona is among the top 20 summer destinations of 2024, and for anyone planning to visit the bustling Mediterranean metropolis known for its art and architecture, or other tourist-filled hotspots during high-season, there may be some additional costs to consider.

Many countries across Europe including Spain, Greece, and Germany have implemented fees for foreign visitors to help support local costs of doing business, especially during the busy summer months. It’s similar to that of a hotel occupancy tax that American travelers may be more familiar with for domestic stays.

What is a tourist tax?

“Tourist taxes are a rapidly growing trend,” Clint Henderson, Managing Editor at The Points Guy, told ABC News’ Good Morning America, adding that the fee system is increasingly popular “because it’s an easy way for cities to raise revenues without taxing local citizens. It’s also more politically palatable and it has the added benefit of helping to deal with over-tourism.”

Henderson also pointed out that “Crowding at especially popular spots made famous by Instagram are simply out of control.”

“Locals in places like Venice, [Italy] and Maui are also getting more vocal about problematic tourists,” he said. “We think you’ll only see this trend of tourist taxes spread. Look for action from places like Hawaii in the future, which has been considering some kind of tax for a few years now.”

The rural town of La Salut, located just outside Barcelona and best known for Park Güell mosaic-covered buildings, tapas bars and seafood restaurants, was recently removed from Google and Apple maps, Yahoo first reported, after being inundated with tourists taking over the locals’ main bus route.

What to know about tourist fees abroad this summer

Henderson said tourism taxes “are not yet that widespread,” with the caveat that “local taxes and fees are very common and often hidden in your hotel bill.”

His tip? “Google your destination to see about potential fees before you go,” he said.

“Many hotels are now listing local taxes and fees in their online pricing, but you can always call ahead of time to make sure you won’t be facing additional ‘destination’ or ‘resort’ fees,” he suggested.

Summer vacation destinations with a tourist tax

There are some newcomers adding a tourist tax for the first time this summer, and other nations increasing percentages that people will be expected to pay.

“Galapagos National Park is charging $200 as of August 1 to visit. Bhutan charges $100 per day. Wales and Hawaii are among the locations now considering tourist taxes,” Henderson listed.

Barcelona

The Barcelona municipality recently increased its tourist tax from 2.75 euros to 3.25 euros on April 1.

Paris

The tourist tax for the Olympics host nation is based on a municipal rate. Typically the cost has been under $6 per night, but starting in January officials increased the visitor fee up to $17, depending on the hotel type.

Seville

Earlier this year the mayor of Seville, José Luis Sanz, announced on X plans to “close the Plaza de España and charge tourists to finance its conservation and guarantee its safety.”

Sanz shared a video along with his post that showed missing tiles, damaged facades and street vendors occupying alcoves and stairs.

The southern Spanish city will now charge visitors to enter the historic area that has been at risk of irreversible damage to its famed tile floors, bridges and towers.

Venice

Earlier this year, the coastal city known for it’s canals, blown glass and close proximity to the heart of Italy’s Prosecco region implemented a fee of 5 euro per day tripper through a new reservation system.

Travelers can download an app to pay and attain a QR code which will be shown to enter the city as a visitor.

“It is not a revolution, but the first step of a path that regulates the access of daily visitors. An experiment that aims to improve the liveability of the city, who lives there and who works there. We will carry it forward with great humility and with the awareness that there may be problems,” the mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, stated on X in the announcement.

“The margins of error are wide, but we are ready, with humility and courage, to make all the changes that will serve to improve the procedure. Venice is the first city in the world to implement this path, which can be an example for other fragile and delicate cities that must be safeguarded,” he continued.

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