- New in 2018: A doubled tax in the Balearic Islands, as well as new taxes in Portugal and Greece
- Highest taxes are in Italy and the Balearics
- Lowest tourist taxes are in Greece and Lisbon; no taxes in Madrid and the UK
- Tourist tax in Venice is almost 11% of total accommodation cost
Tourist taxes are becoming more common. Many are introduced with short notice as the high travel season approaches. Oftentimes, travellers don’t realise a tax is in place until checkout because fees are usually incorporated into accommodation prices.
To add to the confusion, taxes vary wildly from country to country – even city to city, and travellers might not know what they’re paying for. In addition to supporting tourist infrastructure, some places direct taxpayer money toward the region’s environmental efforts and sustainability. Others, toward maintaining cultural sites. Holidu, a leading search engine for holiday lettings, identified the less obvious costs travellers are likely to be hit with in Europe, to help people better plan for fast-approaching summer holidays.
What’s new in 2018?
Starting this summer, visitors to the Balearic Islands, including the Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera islands, will face a doubled tax increase. This applies to everyone over age 16. While it differs slightly depending on accommodation type, it is an average doubling of €3 per person per night, starting May 1 until October 31.
This tax, known as the “Tax for Sustainable Tourism,” applies to all types of holiday accommodation, including cruise ships – for the first time ever. These changes are due to the Balearic Government’s efforts to cope with mass tourism in the area. Revenue generated from this tax will go toward protection and maintenance of natural island resources and help make the islands more attractive to visitors.
The “eco-tax” not only depends on the person, but also the type of accommodation rented. This means that a tourist tax of €4 will be charged for anyone staying in any vacation rental or a 4-star hotel, €3 for a 3-star hotel and €2 for a person staying in a 2-star hotel, inns, tourist camps, and campsites.
The Canary Islands, which includes popular holiday destinations such as Tenerife and Grand Canaria, are considering following the Balearics and implementing their own eco tax.
Porto, Portugal implemented a new tax in March 2018, as the country has been experiencing a recent tourism boom. This new tax, which applies to anyone over 18, charges €2 per overnight stay per person in the city, to a maximum of seven nights.
Greece implemented a “stayover” tax on January 1 of this year, with the aim of driving revenue to cut the country’s debt. The fee runs between €0.50 and €4 per night, based on the official rating of the accommodation booked, and guests are required to pay the tax at check-in. For rentals, the fees depend on the number of keys given to the guest: €0.25 for 1-2 keys, €0.50 for 3 keys, €1.00 for 4.
In most cases, tourist taxes apply to B&B and home stays, not just hotels. Each city or town has its own variations: Depending on local law, many involve calculations based on a flat or percentage rate, number of guests, number of nights, or property type booked. The tax is paid by the guest, but obligation to remit the taxes to the government falls to the lessor.
Croatia is also seeing some changes this year, after 15 years. As of January 2018, the country’s sojourn tax is now raised to the range of 2.5 to 8 kuna per person and per night (€0.34 to €1.08). During the high season, it will be closer to 8 kuna.
The Highest Taxes in Europe
According to Holidu data, while the priciest holiday lettings for a family of four during the high season are located in popular island destinations like Mykonos, Santorini, Mallorca, Menorca and so on, the highest tourist taxes are in Italy. Venice takes the lead here, with an average of €5 per person, per night.
“Tassa di soggiorno” is the term for the many local tourist taxes that rolled out across Italy in 2011. Generally, the tax is a Euro amount corresponding to the hotel’s or accommodations rating and levied on a set number of nights. The maximum number of nights corresponding to the tax applied varies from place to place. When these taxes are added to Italy’s VAT, a standard seven-night tour of Italy can cost upwards of €100 per person in addition to accommodation charges, indeed making Italy one of Europe’s most expensive destinations.
Other high-priced places include Brussels and Amsterdam: In Brussels, travellers need to pay attention to a formula where you multiply €3 by the accommodation price by number of nights, which adds up quickly. In Amsterdam, where taxes are calculated according to the cost of the accommodation, percentages reach up to six percent.
The Lowest Taxes
Greece is the country with the lowest taxes – an average, country-wide, of about €0.25 per night, per letting (for 1-2 keys given to guests). Following Greece is Slovenia, which is about €0.94 on average throughout the country.
Taxes vary from region to region in Portugal but Lisbon is one of the destinations with the lowest taxes. Every tourist pays €1 per night in tax, regardless of accommodation type or category, when entering or exiting the city. The average total accommodation cost for a family-sized rental, during high season, plus tax, is €910.00.
Other places that tax an average of €1 per night include France’s Brittany, Corsica, Côte d’Azur and Provence.
No Taxes at all
Madrid does not have a tourist tax. This is different from other parts of Spain – aside from the aforementioned doubled tourist tax in the Balearics, there is also a daily rate that ranges from €0.45 to €2.25 per person in Catalonia. The region’s average total accommodation cost for a family-sized rental, during high season, with tax, is €1,122.80.
There are no tourist taxes in the Denmark or the United Kingdom, either, although Bath could become the first in the UK to introduce one. Earlier this year, plans were drawn up to charge hotel guest staying in the city a small extra fee per night, but so far the proposal has not yet gone through. If it does, this Georgian spa city would become the first in the UK to introduce a tourist tax model.
“Such different tourist taxes and pricing can confuse travellers,” says Holidu co-founder and CEO Johannes Siebers. “With the right information, travellers might feel more confident in their transactions. At Holidu, we aim to clear up as much travel-related confusion as possible and bring transparency into the vacation rental market. While tax information displayed varies and depends on each booking platform or provider, at Holidu, we’re working to have all taxes shown in the total price, so people can be well-informed when booking holiday homes.”
Share of Tourist Tax per Total Accommodation Cost
Although taxes are often regarded as a pesky add-on to costs, they actually might be substantial part of accommodation costs. Holidu puts this into perspective with average nightly rates, to show the share of tourist tax per total accommodation cost.
Given Venice’s high taxes, it should come as no surprise that this city of canals has a significantly higher share than all other areas of tourist tax per total accommodation cost – the tax is 10.81% of the total accommodation cost (on average, €1,295 for the week, for a family of four during high season).
Following that are three German metropolises, starting with Berlin, where tax makes up 8.78% of the total accommodation cost (average is €828.80). Then you have Hamburg (8.68%) and Munich (8.43%).
With Brussels’ tax formula, the average total accommodation cost for a family-sized rental during high season, with tax, is €2,583.00. In Amsterdam, with the six percent tax, average total accommodation cost here is €1,862.52.
Among the Balearics, with the region’s recent doubling in taxes, Mallorca presents the highest share of tourist tax as compared to all other islands: The tax here is 5.6% of total accommodation cost.
Places where the share of tourist tax per total accommodation cost are under 0.50% include Bucharest and the majority of the Greek islands – and, surprisingly, Santorini and Mykonos have the lowest percentages, with .09% and .07%, respectively.
Exemptions: Who Doesn’t Have to Pay?
In some countries, children or young adults are exempt from the tax. Children under 10 are exempt from the tax in Italy; children under 12 are exempt from the tax in Belgium. In Portugal, children under 13 are spared the overnight tax.
Croatia offers a 50% discount for those between the ages of 12 and 18; the same discount applies for travellers going to Slovenia, whose ages fall between seven and 18.
It’s 15 in Austria, but for Spain and the Balearics, any tourist who falls under the age of 16 is exempt from tourist taxes. In France, Malta, Romania and Slovenia, any tourist who falls under the age of 18 is exempt.
Germany is the only country where business travellers are exempt from a tourist tax – visitors to Berlin, who would otherwise be charged 5% of the room rate, get to pass on these added fees if they’re there for work.
About this study
The data used in this study was conducted in May 2018. The holiday letting data accumulates searches for a holiday home in popular summer holiday letting destinations fitting 2-4 people (family-sized) during one week in early August 08.04.2018 – 08.11.2018 (high season). The average price per night was determined, with the average over the median being calculated for particularly reliable data and statistical outliers not taken into account. Information on tourist taxes was compiled from a number of localised tourism sources.