You may need to add a tourist tax to your vacay budget

If 2022 was the year of “revenge travel,” then 2023 is the year of “tourism taxes” as countries and cities around the globe implement fees for visitors to enter, looking to cash in on the surge in travel demand.

Driving the news: Manchester just introduced a £1 ($1.67) per night fee for anyone staying in a hotel or vacation apartment, making it the first city in the UK to do so—but the tourist tax trend has been gaining momentum around the globe. 

  • Barcelona, Spain’s most visited city, has been collecting a tourism tax since 2012 but bumped up the price for 2023 by €1 ($1.47). 

  • In June, Thailand will begin charging 300 baht ($11.90) for visitors who fly in and 150 baht ($5.95) for those who enter through land borders.

  • Hawaii is considering imposing an annual “green fee” of US$50 per visitor.

Why it’s happening: Many economies are fuelled by tourism, but over-tourism has plagued some of the top destinations—the fees are meant to create a filter for “quality tourists,” which adds value to the city.

  • The “true cost of tourism” accounts for municipal money spent on cleaning up litter, maintaining natural attractions like parks and beaches, and investing in public infrastructure like more efficient transit routes and additional parking.

  • It also seems like a small fee won’t keep people from travelling—in fact, almost 75% of people surveyed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)said they would happily pay extra to make their trip more sustainable.

Yes, but: Some tourist fees fall under the price gouging category—businesses in Niagara Falls are infamous for levying a wide range of fees, some of which go straight into their pocket.

Why it matters: Paying a small fee to experience a vibrant city or secluded beach won’t break your travel budget, but make sure you’re paying an actual tourism tax and not just being charged more for being a foreigner.