If you’ve recently visited Europe, you might have been asked to pay a tourist city tax. Most travelers out there wonder if this practice is legal, as they don’t know exactly what it means. However, there is a large number of European countries and cities that have implemented this so-called tourist city tax.
Therefore, we are here to answer all of your questions related to it. By reading this article, you will find out exactly what a tourist city tax is, who is charging it, and, more importantly, why is it being charged?
Without any further ado, let’s get right into it!
The history of the tourist city tax
Up until recently, people didn’t actually realize they were charged a tourist city tax. Yes, that’s true, you were probably being charged with one of these fees if you have visited Europe in the past 20 years.
Reportedly, the city of Paris introduced a fee similar to what we know today as tourist city tax way back in 1994. At that time, plenty of other countries, such as Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, and the Netherlands, were charging this fee.
The reason for which nobody was noticing is that it was actually incorporated in the accommodation price. So, if you ever thought that the prices seem a little bit inflated, it was because of this fee.
However, things have evolved, and apartment stays and B&B services appeared on the market out of a sudden. Let’s see how this fact influenced the tourist city tax and made it be excluded out of the accommodation price and actually charged in cash when a customer is leaving a certain hotel.
The reason behind the tourist city tax
First of all, it is entirely legal – therefore, don’t worry; you haven’t been scammed if you were asked to pay such a fee. According to various sources, the tourist city tax was implemented because of the poor economy of some countries and cities.
As the state of the economy was decreasing, the municipalities of some cities were having a hard time maintaining the infrastructure of the respective cities. Therefore, they came up with a fee that applies to non-residents, in order to alleviate some of the problems they were facing.
For example, in Milano, the tax has been in force since the 1st of September 2012. One of the regional laws that describe this fee states that hotels and non-hotels are both seen as accommodation facilities and, therefore, they should demand such fee from their customers.
So, you are likely to be charged such a fee if you stay in hotels, motels, and touristic residences. Moreover, you can also be charged if you rent a vacation home, a mountain hut, a hiking shelter, apartments, or stay in youth hostels, or any type of outdoor accommodations.
How is the tourist city tax applied?
Usually, the fees apply to one person and for one day of stay. You will most likely be asked to pay this tax in cash, at the moment you check-out out of your accommodation.
In Rome, for example, the tax changes according to the type of accommodation you are staying in. If you have a room in a 3-star hotel, you will have to pay two Euros per person, per night. However, if you stay in a 4- or 5-star hotel, you will have to pay three Euros per person, per night.
On the other hand, in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Cologne, the tourist city tax is 5% of your hotel room bill. Moreover, you might be required to pay such a fee for your children as well – but Italy does not usually charge individuals that are under 14 or 16 years old.
It’s important to remember that the tourist city tax has to be paid for a maximum of ten nights spent in a certain hotel or type of accommodation that charges this fee. That said, if you book a multiday tour with accommodation stays etc. on tour and holiday booking portal such as Bookmundi, the price they list is included includes Tourist City Tax.
Furthermore, not only European countries seem to be affected by this tax. We say affected because a lot of people don’t realize that they were going to pay it anyway, even if it was hidden in the accommodation price or not. Reportedly, Dubai and America have also introduced tourist city taxes.
Where does the tourist city tax go?
As we mentioned before, the municipality of the city is responsible for the city tax – they charge it and they take it. We also said that the money resulted from the tourist city tax is used to fix certain economic problems. It is usually used to support and develop the local tourist industry, while in some countries, the money is used to raise revenue for government departments that have been hard-pressed.
Therefore, you don’t have to think wrong of the tourist city tax, as in most countries, it is used to improve your stay there. For example, in Catalonia, Spain, this tax has helped raise around 126 million Euros – which has been equally split between town halls, local tourism boards, and the Catalan Tourism Agency.
The bottom line
So, now you know exactly what a tourist city tax is – it’s basically a fee that you’ve always been paying if you’ve visited some popular European cities and is used to support the development of tourism in those areas.
Most tourists are quite scared about this tax, but for no reason at all. It’s true, we don’t like the fact that we’re being charged a fee just because we are tourists, but this is how things work and this is how local accommodation communities get the support they need, especially if they are located in countries with a poor economy.
For example, take a look at Greece, a country that’s been in economic crisis and recovering from it for a long time. It is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and the accommodation there is quite cheap as well – we wouldn’t mind having to pay some extra euros to support it, right?
We hope that our article made you understand better the purpose of this tourist city tax so that the next time you are asked for one you don’t get all confused and you can just enjoy your stay!