Planning a trip to Amsterdam this year? You might need to set aside extra cash for accommodation. The city has increased its tourist tax on any visitor spending the night in the Dutch capital, whether they're staying in a hotel, guesthouse or Airbnb rental.
As of January 2020, Amsterdam is charging a flat fee of €3 ($3.25) per person, per night on any visitor spending the night in a hotel, in addition to the current 7% room rate. Tourists staying in Airbnb rentals will also play an increased rent of 10% per night. The flat tax on campsites will be €1 (about $1.10) per person per night.
"It will likely make Amsterdam's the highest overnight tax in Europe, on average," Tim Fairhurst, director of policy for the European Tourism Association, told CNN.
Many European countries add a tourist tax to the hotel bill. And there are many ways to calculate it, depending on where you visit. In Paris, for example, tourists can expect to be charged anything from 20 cents to €1.50 ($1.64) per person per night, based on hotel location and star rating. In Rome, a flat rate is applied. So you can pay up to €7 per person per night, which works out more than €80 ($87) for two people if you're staying for a week.
Amsterdam isn't the only city to increase its visitor tax this year. This summer, visitors to Venice, Italy, will also pay more to visit, even if they're day-trippers. From 1 July, visitors will pay €10 ($11.22) during peak periods and €3 during off-peak periods. Overnight visitors already pay a tourist tax.
In Amsterdam, with the new flat fee applied to the tourist tax, a couple staying in a €120-a-night-hotel for a week would pay €117.60 ($128.30) extra (in total) from 2020, a pretty significant levy.
Vera Al, spokesperson for the city's deputy mayor Groot Wassink, told CNN: "the fact is that numbers are growing - you can't build a fence around the city and we don't want that either. Increasing the tax isn't to affect the number of visitors, but it's the principle. It costs a lot to keep our city clean and safe, and our infrastructure - like bridges - in a good state."
Fewer than one million people live in Amsterdam but it receives about 20 million visitors per year. As mass tourism threatens to overwhelm the city, Amsterdam has banned Airbnb short-term rentals in busy areas and introduced a ban on any new shops aimed at tourists (particularly those selling overpriced souvenirs) in the historic centre. It also cracked down on disruptive city-centre tours like Segways, beer bikes and boozy boat trips, as well as red light district tours.
This article was first published on 10 August, 2019 and updated on 3 January, 2020.