Europe is the most popular tourist destination on the planet. In 2017, there were an estimated 1.3 billion international tourists, with over half of them visiting Europe. The most-popular destination on Earth was France, with almost 90 million tourists in 2017; Spain took second place, with 82 million tourists, and Italy was also popular, with 58 million foreign visitors.

However, is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Tourists can crowd out locals, raise prices, and put extra pressure on the environment. Increasingly, major tourist destinations are introducing “tourist taxes” to deal with overcrowding (and raise a bit of extra revenue). Venice had been due to introduce a new tourist levy ready for summer 2019, but the charge has been delayed pending appeals by airlines, coach companies, and other carriers.

Almost 10% of total employment in the EU comes from the tourism sector. In addition, tourism represents fully 10% of the European Union’s annual GDP, generating €342 billion in 2016. So, tourism is a significant slice of the EU economy. Would a tourism tax away too many people? Or would it be a good way to make tourism more sustainable?

Should more countries introduce a tourist tax? Would it help deal with overcrowding? Or would it just hurt local economies? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: (c) BigStock – rglinsky



26 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    catherine benning

    Should more countries introduce a tourist tax?

    If you want to reduce the amount of tourism to the EU, yes.

    • avatar
      Zap

      Well it seems they do, so…

  2. avatar
    HJo

    Regions yes. In a larger perspective: We need to tax more usage of resources and less labour. Unfortunately with our countries a new tax will never mean a reduction of another tax.

  3. avatar
    Rick

    Yes, but more importantly, who gets the proceeds for the tax and what will be use of the funds collected? Airport tax exist, collection is included with the ticket when purchased. Will it be when a passport is stamped? Credit or cash? a toll both at the entrance of major attraction?

    • avatar
      Louise

      Rick, a good point. It should be a sales tax on products and services sold to tourists in any city or location where tourists crowd out locals and locals pick up the tab. The proceeds should be used to reduce the charges locals pay for cleaning and maintenance of monuments, museums and streets. On a macro level taxes could be used to redirect tourism in an ecological way to areas where jobs are needed or habitats and landscapes need to be preserved.

    • avatar
      Rick

      Louise, i think taxing tourist activities, hotel, rental car, tourist attractions. In most European countries museum entrance is reduced for non-tourist patrons…

  4. avatar
    Martin

    no, just let the people breath, instead of inventing new and new taxes !!!

  5. avatar
    Cãlin

    I don’t come with an alternative solution, but I don’t think that taxes are a panacea. I think that maybe, through negotiations inside European circles, holidays periods could be encouraged to be set differently so not everyone would like to visit the same places at the same time. Apart from this, making touristic cities exclusivist to wealthy people only will close lots of businesses aimed to larger but more economical groups. And something tells me that those business owners and the thousands working for them would not gladly change work to a factory, per say.

  6. avatar
    Bódis

    How about less taxes on the people, for a change?

  7. avatar
    Ian

    The problem aren’t tourists. Like Cãlin implied, creating economic exclusivity isn’t the solution. Everyone should have the opportunity to visit whatever they can. But the Tourism industry, this giant, must change how it operates. It’s not about commodification, it’s not so much about massification or overcrowding. Yes, these could be problems too; but for example, I’m thinking about displacement inside touristic cities. When a major space is used to accomodate more tourists, than local residents; when rent prices, for examples, are driven by touristic interests. Is that fair, in the long run, to local residents? We are losing traditional businesses in city centres to more tourist-focused businesses, that won’t cater to, satisfy or tend to local needs.
    When tourism overpowers everything else, then we have a problem. When we set aside and ignore locals, then we have a problem. Cities are living things, not just a collection of monuments for making money. And the Tourism Industry has pushed a certain way of doing things—that must be changed. And a new narrative has to be created: Touristic cities are cities where real people, with real, everyday needs also live. And tourism is not everything in their lives.
    A more sustainable, respectful is possible. But the model must change.
    We need to curtail massification. We need to regulate tourist-focused apartments, for example. We need to control prices. We need to find ways to make the Tourism industry accountable for its activity; and make them a part of the maintenance, the conservation, the development, the improvement of touristic sites. Is a tax the only way to bring back revenues into these places?
    And how are we to avoid that whatever tax we impose onto agencies, for example, they won’t just shift it into final prices, prices people like you and me will pay…? Must we pay for a model we don’t control?

  8. avatar
    Ghislaine

    What about the people without holidays? Due to exspensif? Do they need more taxes?

    • avatar
      Zap

      Of course. The poor must be taxed and the rich rewarded :)

  9. avatar
    Betti

    How about some interesting questions? Like: European Army, East European problems, Putin, Trump, etc.

    • avatar
      Ghislaine

      Betti, we don’t need an exspensief European army. Let Putin and Trump rule there on counstries and let us mind our own bussiness. A far more better deal

    • avatar
      Zap

      I actually think we DO need an EU army.
      I don’t trust Germany or Hungary, our “NATO allies” who seem to be in bed with Putler to save us.
      France is too far and UK is out. And with that orange buffoon, America is unsure also.

      Sorry to say but eastern Europe does not feel safe at all.

  10. avatar
    Nancy

    I’d be curious to know how they’d add a tourist tax without effecting EU citizens.

    • avatar
      Zap

      It is for everyone. Otherwise an ID check would fix that

  11. avatar
    Stefania

    If the tax is used to correct harmful behaviour for the community it is a right tax. We must determine whether the tourist pollutes or wears precious environments to the community Definitely yes but it should be regulated by the state otherwise it becomes a luxury for those who can Cultural Heritage belongs to all those who know how to appreciate it and respect it regardless of People must be educated to respect the environment in which they are located. Tax must not discourage tourist but instruct. The tax or insurance on the health service as different countries also European have (in Italy no luckily but we have pressure to do so. The Italian health system is still the best in the world despite the EU pushing us to dismantled but we will resist because our model is socially right) it is an immoral tax because it discourages people to heal and health is a primary good does not touch.
    Venice is a wonderful but very delicate city. If the tax regulates the turnout but does not rule its ecosystem do not solve the problem and damage it. Cruise ships are great and Venice can’t receive them, damage it. The State must invest, tax and regulate based on what is right. The European Union cannot replace the state because it does damage! All those lobbyists…… politics drives the market, not vice versa

  12. avatar
    Luc

    the tourist is not the problem, the illegals is the problem !!!

  13. avatar
    Olivier

    Useless. No more tax please. Promote rural tourism. So many places are empty in Europe.

  14. avatar
    jthk

    Taxing tourist means cutting business and gdp growth. Isn’t this suicidal when the global political economy is in great instability when the great power US is on the decline? Why governments cannot divert tourists to other places where tourism is not well developed? In this way, benefit of tourism can be more evenly distributed. Why can’t tourism authorities of states not able to suggest new route, new experience for tourists flooding everywhere? This is not the problem brought about by tourism but the industry and tourist authorities lack innovative.

  15. avatar
    jthk

    For Venice, it is really a problem, truly very overcrowded. It needs to be handled differently for tourists are really causing nuisance to resident. Apart from tourist tax, Venice really need to set a daily quota with tax level changes throughout the year. Or, tourists can be diverted to the sea with floating restaurants or other activities suitable to be carried out on the sea…

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