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Tourist Taxes: Europe's Answer to Overtourism

Overtourism in Venice

The resurgence of travel in a post-pandemic world has brought with it the age-old challenge of overtourism. European countries, in particular, are feeling the strain, with many popular destinations witnessing an unprecedented influx of tourists.

To manage this surge and ensure sustainable tourism, several nations have turned to the concept of 'tourist taxes'. This article delves into:

  • The rationale behind these taxes.
  • The European cities leading the charge.
  • The specifics of the tax in various countries.
  • The impact on travelers and the benefits for the destinations.

The Rationale and the Leaders

Tourist taxes aren't a novel concept, but their implementation has gained momentum in recent years. The primary goal is twofold: to manage the number of tourists and to generate revenue that can be reinvested in local infrastructure and sustainability projects. Cities like Barcelona and Valencia in Spain have been at the forefront of this movement. Barcelona, with its rich history and architectural marvels, has seen a steady increase in its tourist tax since 2012. The funds collected are channeled into enhancing the city's infrastructure, ensuring that both tourists and locals benefit. Valencia, on the other hand, is set to introduce its tourist tax by 2024, with a clear focus on sustainable tourism and providing affordable housing for its residents. Greek capital Athens is also considering introducing a city tax for tourists visiting the city.



The Specifics and the Impact

While the idea of a tax might seem straightforward, its implementation varies widely. For instance, Olhão in Portugal has a seasonal approach, with different rates for summer and winter months. Greece, with its myriad islands and historical sites, bases its tax on the type of accommodation. Venice, a city that has long grappled with the challenges of overtourism, is set to charge day visitors from 2024. The funds collected are earmarked for services that directly benefit the city's residents. These taxes, while an added expense for travelers, play a crucial role in ensuring that popular destinations can handle the tourist influx without compromising on their charm or the quality of the visitor experience.

The Broader European Context

The European Union, recognizing the challenges and opportunities presented by tourism, is introducing a new measure. From 2024, non-EU citizens wishing to enter the Schengen zone will need to complete a €7 application. This move, initially slated for 2023, aims to streamline the entry process and manage the number of tourists. Individual countries, too, have their unique approaches. From Austria to Hungary and from France to Slovenia, tourist taxes are becoming a staple, each with its nuances and specific rates.



Looking Beyond Europe

While Europe is leading the charge, the concept of tourist taxes is gaining traction globally. Countries from Bhutan to Malaysia and from Japan to the USA have implemented or are considering similar measures. The specifics might vary, but the underlying principle remains consistent: to ensure sustainable tourism that benefits both the destination and its visitors.


As the world embraces the joys of travel once again, understanding the nuances of tourist taxes becomes crucial for every traveler. These taxes, while an added line item on your travel budget, contribute to a larger goal: sustainable, responsible, and enjoyable travel experiences for all.

Photo credit: Venezia Autentica - Sebastian Fagarazzi


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