Global hotspots target overtourism

A new tourist tax in Bali. Higher hotel taxes in Amsterdam and Paris. Stricter rules on public alcohol consumption in Milan and Mallorca. Ahead of the summer travel season, leaders of many resort towns have taken steps to tame the tourist crowds – or at least make more revenue from them.

All of this can create headaches for travelers, although in most cases the new fares or tax increases represent only a small fraction of the total cost of a trip. The goal is to ensure tourism runs smoothly for both visitors and locals, said Megan Epler Wood, managing director of the Sustainable Tourism Asset Management Program at Cornell University.

“All tourism depends on beautiful natural and cultural resources. You need to protect these resources to be a viable tourist destination – and if you don't, they will degrade,” Ms Epler Wood said.

In some places, proposals for new fees or rules for visitors have drawn opposition from residents, who fear they will scare away tourists who support the local economy. But destinations must find ways to counteract what Epler Wood calls “the invisible burden” of tourism, which includes strains on a community's infrastructure, public services and real estate, as well as tourists' carbon footprint and potential challenges. that they could impose on residents. 'daily lives.

“There's so much pressure put on the place that the people who live there become unhappy, and so they don't present themselves very well to tourists,” Ms. Epler Wood said. “The longer you wait, the more it will cost to fix it.”

Here's a look at the new measures travelers can expect this summer and where more may be coming in the future.

Since February, visitors to the Indonesian island of Bali have been asked to pay a tax of 150,000 Indonesian rupees, or about $9.40 per visit. The revenue will be used to support the conservation of cultural and natural assets on the island, where tourism has brought major challenges related to waste, water supply and overcrowding. Visitors are encouraged to pay the new fare online before departure, although it is also possible to pay upon arrival at the airport.

Starting Aug. 1, most foreign travelers to the Galápagos Islands — which saw a record 330,000 visitors last year — will have to pay an entry fee of $200, double the current rate. The money raised will be used to support conservation, improve infrastructure and fund community programs.

The change is the first increase in the entry fee since it was introduced in 1998, said Tom O'Hara, communications manager for the Galápagos Conservation Trust. O'Hara noted that the increase comes a year after the UNESCO World Heritage Committee urged Ecuador's government to work towards a “zero growth model” for tourism in the Galápagos.

“It's a pretty complicated topic,” O'Hara said, noting that raising fees was seen “as part of the solution to overtourism.” On the other hand, he added, “everyone is trying to reassure the local tourism industry that this will not kill tourism in the islands.

In April, Venice began imposing a tax – 5 euros, about $5.40 – on day trippers visiting on peak days, aiming to find “a new balance between tourists and residents.”

But the new access fee to Venice has attracted criticism from residents. “This project is a disaster for us. We are a city, not a park,” said Matteo Secchi, president of, an association of Venice residents. According to Secchi, a communication campaign would have been more effective.

The possibility of a new tourism tax has also drawn local opposition in Hawaii, where Gov. Josh Green has proposed a “climate impact tax” for visitors to the state. The measure failed during a recent meeting of the state legislature, but Governor Green insisted on asking visitors to help fund the state's preparedness for future climate shocks.

“We have to grab this tiger by the tail,” he told reporters in May, adding that $25 per visitor could raise $250 million a year, which the state could use to protect against climate disasters, manage erosion, strengthen infrastructure and protect parks.

Hotel taxes, also known as lodging or tourist taxes, are widespread in the United States and Europe, where they had been rising for a decade before the pandemic. As tourism has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, several destinations have increased or adjusted taxes to bring in more revenue.

Like Hawaii, Greece – which suffered severe wildfires last summer – is trying to prepare for climate disasters, and the government wants tourists to help foot the bill. Greece calls this tax a “climate crisis resilience tax” and will be collected from housing providers. The tax will be highest from March to October, when it will reach 10 euros per night in five-star hotels. The rate drops from November to February and for hotels with fewer stars. The rate replaces the previous hotel tax, which ranged from €0.50 to €4 per night.

In Amsterdam, the hotel tax, which was already one of the highest in Europe, rose to 12.5% ​​from 7% on January 1. City lawmakers also increased the tax on cruise passengers from 11 euros per person per night to 14 euros.

The hotel tax in Barcelona has also increased this year, reaching €3.25 per night. The measure represents the latest step forward in a gradual increase that began before the pandemic. A Barcelona City Council spokesperson said further tax increases would target tourist rental apartments and short-stop cruises, which contribute less to the city's revenue. The spokesperson also underlined that the proceeds of the tourist tax are used, among other things, to finance the installation of solar panels and air conditioning systems in public schools in Barcelona.

Ahead of this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, lawmakers in the Île-de-France region have imposed a new tax on top of the regular hotel tax. With the new tax, which will fund public transport in the region, a guest in a five-star hotel will now have to pay a total of €10.73 in taxes for each night of their stay, while a stay in a two-star hotel will incur a fee of €3.25. per night.

Although the measure was adopted by the regional government, it was not supported by the Paris leadership itself. A spokesperson for Paris city hall called the move “a democratic power grab” that “does not benefit the city of Paris in any way.” He noted that even with the funds generated by the new tax, the region still increased the price of public transport tickets in the city during the Olympics – a measure that displeased many Paris residents.

In other tourist locations, the focus is on curbing behaviors that pollute the local environment or damage residents' quality of life.

In Japan, Mount Fuji authorities will limit visitors to 4,000 per day. They also imposed a new fee of 2,000 yen (about $13) for access to the iconic summit. Elsewhere in the country, a community council in Kyoto's Gion neighborhood closed some small streets to tourists after complaints that the area, home to the city's geisha quarter, was overcrowded.

“We will ask tourists to refrain from entering narrow private streets during or after April,” Isokazu Ota, a leading member of the city council, told the Agence-France Presse in March. “We don't want to do it, but we're desperate.”

A spokesperson for the city's tourism board described the road closures as “a local initiative,” adding that “neither Kyoto City nor the Kyoto City Tourism Association is aware of any details beyond what reported by the media”.

Rowdy visitor behavior was the target of the new rules in Milan. In some areas, city leaders banned outdoor seating after 12:30 a.m. during the week and 1 a.m. on weekends in response to complaints from residents. They also limited late-night sales of takeaway food and drinks.

And in parts of the Spanish Balearic Islands of Mallorca and Ibiza that are overrun with drunken tourists, the government has imposed a ban on late-night alcohol sales and street drinking. New restrictions have also been imposed on party boats in the same areas.

“Tourism has negative externalities that must be managed and minimized,” Marga Prohens, president of the Balearic Islands, said at a local meeting this month, according to the Majorca Daily Bulletin. Local tourism, she said, “cannot continue to grow in volume.”

Paige McClanahan, a regular Travel contributor, is the author of “The New Tourist: Waking Up to the Power and Perils of Travel,” out from Scribner on June 18.

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