Taxed to travel…

As if the weak rand were not enough of a damper on overseas travel for South Africans, international destinations have now also increasingly started imposing additional tourist taxes. Spain, Malta, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are among those that have recently started imposing fees to travel to these destinations.

Spain’s Balearic Islands recently jumped onto the tourist tax bandwagon. In March this year, Spanish authorities announced a €2 (R34) tax per person per day for anyone staying at a 4- or 5-star hotel and €1 (R17) per person per day for travellers opting for lower graded accommodation. The tax will be effective for anyone travelling to the Balearic Islands after July 1, even for travellers who made the reservation prior to the announcement of the new taxes.

Barcelona also wants a piece of the cake. The city has been implementing a tourist tax of €0,72 (R12) per person per night since 2012, but now wants to introduce a tax on day trippers. The tax could be imposed on cruise liners as they dock, and in road tolls on coaches as they arrive in the city. Foreign cars could also be subject to road tolls or increased charges for parking.

A new decree in Abu Dhabi imposes a 4% municipality fee on hotel bills as well as a AED15 (R61) charge per night per room. Etihad Airways confirmed that new passenger facilities charge of AED 35 (R140) will also be applicable to all tickets sold on or after May 1 for travel on or after June 30 from Abu Dhabi International Airport.

And, people travelling to Malta will also be charged a new fee from June this year, which will amount to 40p (R6) per night, but this will be capped at €5 (R85). The destination hopes to raise €6m (R103m) a year.

Though unpopular, tourist taxes have long been used by popular destinations such as Paris and Dubai to boost the local government coffers.

Telegraph Travel compared some of Europe’s top destinations to find out, basing calculations on a family of four – two adults and two children aged 16 – staying in five-star accommodation for seven nights.

Italy emerged as the most levy-heavy destination, with families paying up to £153 (R3 317) extra in city taxes for a trip to the capital. A family spending a week in the Cote d’Azur, meanwhile, can expect to pay up to £65 (R1 408) in local taxes.

At a glance | Tourist taxes for a family of 4 for 7 nights

Destination Tourist tax
Rome €196 (R3 354)
Florence €140 (R2 396)
Venice €100 (R1 711)
Paris €92.40 (R1 581)
Nice €84 (R1 437)
Barcelona €69.44 (R1 188)
Bruges €59.36 (R1 015)
Balearic Islands €56 (R958)
Dubrovnik €25.76 (R440)


€16.80 (R287)