How many places on earth are there where you can stand in actual 12th Century Castle, in the middle of a buzzing city? Nearly 4 million travelers visited Edinburgh in 2018 and it’s fair to say that 4 million people have an impact on well, everything that goes on in a city, let alone a historic castle. From mass transit needs to environmental impacts, all mass tourism carries great consequence and Edinburgh has now voted to tax visitors to help curb rising costs. They’re hardly the only ones…
Though a final vote must pass Scotland’s Parliament, Edinburgh City Council voted 43-15 in favor of a #TouristTax. The move would add a charge of £2 ($2.58) per person for each night a traveler stays in the city, which maxes out at seven nights for a total of £14 maximum. The tax would be added to hotel guest bills and would work rather seamlessly.
As tourists opt for micro trips without overnight stays, these overnight taxes aim to help to ease city investment needs. Of course, taxed too highly, they could push travelers further towards day trips, but at £2 a night it’s a very reasonable amount, and hardly a reason to change plans.
Edinburgh is not the only one. In recent years, virtually every country in Europe has developed some sort of tourist surcharge, aimed at improving facilities and protecting local integrity. You’ll find some sort of “transient visitor levy” known as a TLV in Spain, France, Portugal, Italy and beyond. Further abroad, Japan launched a tourist departure tax in January.
By design, the fees are intended to help cities and tourism regions maintain and improve upon their current offerings, and ideally become more visitor friendly. From updated modern airports with more immigration staff to better mass transit facilities to get into town, major investment is crucial as world tourism grows. Low fares mean more people, and more people means a greater drain on even the most basic things, like clean water.
Is £2 a day worth a better city experience for locals and visitors? How could it not be?