To Tax or Not to Tax
Taxes are an inevitable part of international travel; this much is true and readily accepted by eager globetrotters. From VAT to tourism levies to sales tax and more, governments have to find some way to pay for the advertisements and infrastructure involved with maintaining a thriving tourism industry. Everything from TV commercials to parks and recreation facilities are funded through tourism taxes and these levies, however bothersome to the average traveler, make possible the new developments and meticulous maintenance that keep some of the world's most intriguing and scenic places beautiful and prosperous.
Warm Weather Escapes Attract Increased Fees This Winter
Some countries have introduced new or additional fees and taxes to be applied to visitors and tourists to the areas. The Lisbon City Council recently announced that foreign travelers to Portugal's capital city of Lisbon will be charged €1.00 EUR when arriving through the air or sea port starting in 2015 and another €1.00 EUR per night will be charged for each overnight stay spent in a hotel in Lisbon starting in 2016. Both new taxes are intended to be temporary, applying only up until 2019, and Deputy Mayor of Lisbon Fernando Medina clarified to local media that the fees would only apply for visitor's first week spent in the country (with a maximum charge of €7.00 EUR) and children would be exempt from the tax. Although a few extra euros doesn't seem like much for an individual looking to tour the balmy nation of Portugal, the new tax is expected to raise an excess of €7 million EUR next year alone.
The island nation of Maldives has also announced a proposition for the introduction of new tourism taxes on foreigners. The new "green tax" will be aimed at generating funds to compensate for the cost of waste management resulting from disposing of and transporting garbage left on the island by visitors. Although the specific amount of the fee as it would affect individual travelers has yet to be decided the Maldives Ministry of Tourism anticipates bringing in the equivalent of $220 million USD from the new levy. The tourism industry makes up some 90% of Maldives GDP and the Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb has been quoted saying, "Levying this tax is necessary given Maldives' fragile environment. Revenue generated from the tax will go into managing the waste from local resorts and other islands."
...While Many Other Destinations Become More Affordable
The news isn't all bad for those looking to get away in 2015, though, and a growing trend of discounts and tax exemptions is becoming evident all over the world. The Costa Rican government recently announced that it will be abolishing the $29 USD "exit tax" that has been in effect for airline passengers leaving the tropical country of Costa Rica since 2003. Money generated from the levy is used towards improving and expanding air facilities and Costa Rican Vice President Ana Helena Chacon declared that, beginning on December 3, 2014, the airport exit tax would be included in the price of airline tickets rather than having to be paid separately before boarding a flight. The new development has been met with great appreciation by travelers who have viewed the charge as no more than an unnecessary inconvenience incurred by airports.
Japan, too, has joined the bandwagon of countries easing their grip on tourist's wallets this coming travel season. A new policy implemented in October of this year now enables those that wish to explore Japan the ability to reclaim sales tax paid on necessities like food and toiletries in the country, much like the process of reclaiming VAT tax as a non-resident who purchases items in European nations. Currently, sales tax rates in Japan are at decade-high 8% and the rebate program has been received as a welcomed opportunity for travelers to recoup some of the capital spent while on vacation. The sales tax rebate is just part of a long-term effort on the part of Japanese officials to increase tourism in the area for the coming years leading up to the 2020 Olympics.
Perhaps the most enticing tourism-stoking offer of all can be found in the beautiful country of Croatia where the national tourism board has launched an excitingly ambitious campaign to attract new travelers this winter. Although a fantastic place to visit with attractions and sights to see year-round, tourism officials in the resplendent city of Dubrovnik are launching a program in which any visitor staying more than 3 nights in the area this winter will be eligible to receive free walking tours of the city led by English-speaking guides. The promotional offer will apply starting this weekend, November 22,2014, and will run until March 15, 2015.
With deals, discounts, and tax rebates like these popping up around popular travel destinations all over the world, there's no better time than now to begin planning your next thrilling adventure abroad!