Government AffairsDestinations from Kyoto to Laos have introduced new forms of tourism tax from October 1.

Overtourism: It’s taxing issue for some

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Destinations from Kyoto to Laos have introduced new tourism taxes that came into effect on Monday.
Destinations from Kyoto to Laos have introduced new tourism taxes that came into effect on Monday. Photo Credit: alfexe/Getty Images

Japan’s ancient city of Kyoto began levying a tax on tourist accommodations on October 1. Tourists staying at hotels, traditional inns and private lodgings will be taxed between 200 yen (US$1.76) and 1,000 yen per night, depending on the accommodation charge. 

In a bid to reduce crowding and congestion at popular tourist attractions, destinations from Kyoto to Laos to New Zealand have introduced forms of tourism tax. 

Japan’s ancient city of Kyoto began levying a tax on tourist accommodations on October 1. Tourists staying at hotels, traditional inns and private lodgings will be taxed between 200 yen (US$1.76) and 1,000 yen per night, depending on the accommodation charge. 

The city expects to raise 4.56 billion yen annually through the tax, with revenue to be used for tourism promotion, Kyodo News reported. It is the third municipality to impose lodging taxes after Tokyo and Osaka prefectures, which target travellers staying in accommodation that charges more than 10,000 yen.

On a broader scale, Laos quietly introduced a tourism tax at all of Lao PDR’s border checkpoints on Monday, years after it was first floated in 2010.

A US$1 tax will be imposed on all foreign passport holders, including those with residency permits at international border immigration checkpoints, Laotian Times reported. 

The tax aims to reduce overcrowding particularly in the world heritage town of Luang Prabang during the peak season from November to March. Critics suggest that a daily cap on temple tour visitors would go a longer way in controlling overcrowding than a US$1 tax. 

But based on the 3.8 million tourist arrivals in 2017, the tax would raise a respectable treasure chest to support tourism development.

The country has over the years raised various tourism fees and taxes that tourists pay. 

There are at least four different taxes or fees starting with the visa fee of US$30 to US$45, which goes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, an overstay fee of USD$1 to US$2 per day, which goes to the customs department and provincial authorities, a fee of US$2 to US$5, which goes to the Ministry of Tourism and Lao National Tourism Administration, and now the tourist entry tax of US$1.

Elsewhere in Japan, other cities are following suit to levy a lodging tax. Kanazawa city in central Japan will introduce the duty next April and the Fukuoka city assembly has passed an ordinance to urge the southwestern Japanese city to establish such a tax.

In Kutchan town in Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido, a bill for a two percent tax on accommodation fees has been submitted to the town council.

And that’s not all. Tourists arriving in New Zealand are to be stung with a new tax, although Australians will be exempt. 

Government ministers have confirmed a levy would be set at $NZ35 (US$23) per visitor. It is expected to raise about $NZ80 million a year. NZ Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said, "The money raised through the levy will help improve the protection and enhancement of New Zealand's distinctive natural environment and improve tourism planning."

The tourism industry last year overtook dairy to become the country's top export.

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