There is a growing movement in Europe to prevent overtourism and protect cities through tourism taxes. Photo: Venice, Italy / Travel Newspaper CB
There is a growing movement in Europe to prevent overtourism and protect cities through tourism taxes. Photo: Venice, Italy / Travel Newspaper CB

As overseas travel resumed, the issue of overtourism resurfaced. As popular travel destinations suffer from overtourism, many cities around the world have introduced various control measures to reduce the negative effects of overtourism.

The most common measure to alleviate overtourism is to impose a so-called 'tourist tax' on travelers. Even before COVID-19, it was also collected when paying hotel fees. Several European cities are introducing new tourist taxes. ▲Venice, Italy imposes a tourist tax of 5 euros on day-trippers visiting between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends for 29 days from April to July, this year's peak season. In addition, the number of group travelers will be limited to 25 people or less, and the use of loudspeakers will be prohibited. ▲Valencia, Spain, plans to impose a tourist tax starting this year on travelers staying at all types of accommodations in the region, including hotels, hostels, apartments, and campsites. ▲Greece will implement a new tourism tax based on the level of accommodation this year, and ▲Iceland also announced plans to introduce a tourism tax this year and use it for sustainability programs. ▲Amsterdam, Netherlands, raised the land tourism tax from 7% to 12.5% and the tariff for cruise ship passengers from 8 euros to 11 euros per person, ▲Paris, France, increased the tourist tax on hotel rooms in January ahead of the 2024 Olympics. It was increased by 200% from now on.

Southeast Asia also implements a tourism tax. Starting February 14, Bali plans to protect culture and nature by imposing a tourist tax of 150,000 rupiah (about 13,000 won) on all foreign tourists visiting the island. Malaysia charges 10 ringgit (about 2,800 won) per night. Maldives also requires an environmental tax of $6 (approximately 7,900 won) per stay.

What about Korea, which aims to attract 20 million foreign tourists by 2024? According to a survey by Rep. Yoo Jeong-ju's office in October last year, it was found that there had been no countermeasures against overtourism until then. Last year, Jeju Island carried out a service to introduce a tourism tax under the name of 'Environmental Conservation Levy', but it is currently temporarily suspended. There are many reasons. Currently, the number of tourists traveling to Jeju Island has decreased, and the tourism industry also has a negative view of environmental conservation fees.

Several overseas countries also reduced or postponed the introduction of tourism taxes to promote tourism. Thailand has been pushing for the introduction of a tourism tax since last year, but postponed the collection due to concerns that the tourism industry could be affected. Bhutan also imposed a high tourism tax of $200, but plans to impose a tourism tax for four years from 2023 to revitalize tourism. I decided to reduce it by half.

A travel industry official said, “It is not expected to have a significant impact on package travel,” and added, “It is an indirect factor that proves that it is a popular travel destination, but it will be difficult to feel it directly because it is incorporated into accommodation fees and airfares.”

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