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Can increasing airport tax a solution to overtourism?

Can increasing airport tax a solution to overtourism?

Old May 20, 19, 6:42 am
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Can increasing airport tax a solution to overtourism?

From time to time, we do hear about certain cities, in particular Venice, Dubrovnik, Hong Kong, Japan, Phuket etc suffers from overtourism, where the number of tourists may outnumber the local residents and lead to inconvenience to locals and overcrowding, pollution, noise etc.

And I wonder whether one of the reasons being cheap air travel, which makes long distance travel more affordable, therefore more tourists, more often.

In fact, when you look at the airports serving these tourist cities, you can easily able to see a lot of LCCs throwing a lot of frequencies and destinations, and their no fare, or super low fare campaigns boosted the number of travellers, including tourists into these cities.

Take Venice as an example, With LCCs such as easyJet and Ryanair serving VCE, you can see annual passenger numbers jumped from 4 million in 2001 to more than 11 million in 2017/18. An almost 300% increase in just less than 20 years in 1 airport alone will definitely overwhelm a city, and if you consider TSF, which is a FR base, it will not be surprising that coming on air traffic alone, we can have 15 million passengers coming to Venice by air, which is 41,000 a day, plus direct intercity rains and tour buses, the city can easily have 100,000+ tourists which will add another 50% of people to the local population.

The latest information I've got from search shows VCE airport charged a 6 EUR departure tax for all air passengers in 2005, even provided there might have been a 25% inflation in 15 years, it is only EUR 7.50.

With a EUR 7.50 departure tax, I am sure LCCs can easily afford it to provide 0 fares + tax to attract more customers to fly on them.

And so whilst these cities are crying out for overtourism, and attempting to restrict the number of tourists coming in etc., I wonder whether significantly increasing airport tax will actually help to curb this massive influx. What I propose is that rather than imposing quotas for tourists to go into these cities, why not significantly increase the airport tax to make travelling to these cities more expensive?

For example:

Venice Government can impose a air passenger processing fee of, instead EUR 7.50, become EUR 75.00 for flights arriving VCE and TSF, alternatively, EUR 75.00 for EU/short haul arrivals, and EUR 150.00 for long haul arrivals.

This sounds crazy, but I do believe it will bring a number of benefits:

a) Significantly increase revenue to the local government for necessary infrastructure for tourism, properly fund their airports so air traffic controllers don't need to strike all the time.
b) Attract tourists of higher quality rather than low cost tourists who will just come and 'check-in', but seriously spend time in the city, which will boast the economy.

Of course, for the case of Venice, I would say they should end all train services to/from Santa Lucia station, and replace it with a light rail service, and charge high tolls on the gangway.

What do you think? Do you think high airport tax will deter tourists from flooding to a particular place?
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Old May 20, 19, 8:34 am
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Venice's problem is not the tourists that come by land, but those that come by cruise ships. They contribute close to zero to local economy and inundate the town with their presence (pardon the pun).
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Old May 20, 19, 1:12 pm
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I agree on cruise ships and certainly there are ways to limit them; I believe Bermuda is pretty restrictive.

One problem with airport taxes is that they also affect those transiting through there, unless the tax applies specifically to itineraries which end there.
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Old May 20, 19, 3:52 pm
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Venice is probably the most extreme example, but at least for any other tourism-heavy city I can think of, tourists overall bring far more benefit (economically, even if minor) than problems (annoyance).

Going after cruise ships (as mentioned by Palal above) and tour groups which spend relatively little per person locally are probably the most effective measures. Increasing taxes on hotels and short-term rental apartments is also an option that should be more useful than increasing airport taxes or train fares, as those also affect the people who live there that you are trying to help.
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Old May 20, 19, 9:02 pm
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An airport tax to reduce tourism also affects businesses and families. Say if VCE had a very high airport tax. What if you live in Venice and want to visit your sister in New York? What if you live in London and want to visit your parents in Venice? What happens if you work and live in Venice and have a piece of equipment that a company has to send someone to repair?

Some cities charge a lot as a hotel tax and/or a car rental tax.
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Old May 21, 19, 12:42 am
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Tourists aren't created equal in terms of footprint, and while so many places want to attract the big spenders, those same people also tend to have the heaviest environmental footprint. It's also how you get pressure to offer helicopter rides or all kinds of vehicular transport depending on the site. a badly-run flight-seeing Grand Canyon trip could degrade the experience for hundreds on the ground, for example. National Parks have long ago figured out that in most cases it's not too many people, but too many cars.

I'm also no fan of cruise ships because of the yo-yo effect in terms of people it brings to the less-populated or more-fragile places.
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Old May 21, 19, 1:54 am
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Originally Posted by bpe View Post
Venice is probably the most extreme example, but at least for any other tourism-heavy city I can think of, tourists overall bring far more benefit (economically, even if minor) than problems (annoyance).

Going after cruise ships (as mentioned by Palal above) and tour groups which spend relatively little per person locally are probably the most effective measures. Increasing taxes on hotels and short-term rental apartments is also an option that should be more useful than increasing airport taxes or train fares, as those also affect the people who live there that you are trying to help.
The Swiss have an interesting system for public transportation. You pay full fare by default, but you can buy a 50% discount for a year for $150. Thus, residents most often get this discount while tourists (usually) will pay full fare. Because the Swiss rail system is subsidized for about 50% of their budget by the taxpayer, this also makes it a relatively fair alternative.
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Old May 21, 19, 2:42 am
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Originally Posted by RustyC View Post
Tourists aren't created equal in terms of footprint, and while so many places want to attract the big spenders, those same people also tend to have the heaviest environmental footprint. It's also how you get pressure to offer helicopter rides or all kinds of vehicular transport depending on the site. a badly-run flight-seeing Grand Canyon trip could degrade the experience for hundreds on the ground, for example. National Parks have long ago figured out that in most cases it's not too many people, but too many cars.

I'm also no fan of cruise ships because of the yo-yo effect in terms of people it brings to the less-populated or more-fragile places.
Then why Venice Government don't demolish the cruise ship terminals or ban cruise ships from sailing into their area?
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Old May 21, 19, 2:46 am
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Originally Posted by Toshbaf View Post
An airport tax to reduce tourism also affects businesses and families. Say if VCE had a very high airport tax. What if you live in Venice and want to visit your sister in New York? What if you live in London and want to visit your parents in Venice? What happens if you work and live in Venice and have a piece of equipment that a company has to send someone to repair?

Some cities charge a lot as a hotel tax and/or a car rental tax.
If VCE and TSF adopts my model to levy a EUR 75.00 departure tax, I can sure that zero fare tickets will go immediately.

Yes, families and businesses will be affected. In this scenario, we can provide a resident rebate of airport tax, or residents/local businesses will be able to sponsor some of their family members to have the departure tax rebated.

The thing we need is to get rid of carriers who charges too little for flights. If I live in Venice and visit my sister in New York, it would be reasonable for me to pay EUR 1,250 return including tax. If you live in London and visit your parents in Venice, you should be paying 125 - 175 one way, not 0, not 1, not 10.
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Old May 21, 19, 3:15 am
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Originally Posted by Metropolitan Airlines View Post
From time to time, we do hear about certain cities, in particular Venice, Dubrovnik, Hong Kong, Japan, Phuket etc suffers from overtourism
Where is the city of Japan?
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Old May 21, 19, 3:20 am
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Originally Posted by Metropolitan Airlines View Post
If VCE and TSF adopts my model to levy a EUR 75.00 departure tax, I can sure that zero fare tickets will go immediately.

Yes, families and businesses will be affected. In this scenario, we can provide a resident rebate of airport tax, or residents/local businesses will be able to sponsor some of their family members to have the departure tax rebated.

The thing we need is to get rid of carriers who charges too little for flights. If I live in Venice and visit my sister in New York, it would be reasonable for me to pay EUR 1,250 return including tax. If you live in London and visit your parents in Venice, you should be paying 125 - 175 one way, not 0, not 1, not 10.
Who are you (or anyone, really) to say what a reasonable price for a flight is? I'm sure that if they though that flights were too cheap then Venice and the airport would have considered it and done it already. Assessing a tax only on foreigners might not be allowed by Italian law anyway due to discrimination.

Besides, which is the problem here: is it that tourists are too many tourists, that they are too annoying, or that they aren't spending enough money? In every case, there are better solutions than an airport tax or artificially setting flight prices.

If there are too many tourists, then just limit the number allowed in busy areas (I think they might be doing this already? Or at least talking about it). If you just add an airport tax, people will just take the train from Milan, Bologna, or elsewhere instead, and it affects locals too.

If tourists are too annoying, then hire more police and have them enforce rules like no littering, don't get in the way of traffic, no excessive noise etc.

If they aren't spending enough money, then go after the ones that spend less, like cruise passengers, or tax things that only or mostly affect tourists like hotel rooms. This could also be easily combined with limiting the number allowed in, by charging an entry fee (again, if it is legal to do so).
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Old May 23, 19, 12:35 am
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I find it is mostly tourists themselves that complain of 'overtourism' and not the locals that feed their families on the tourist money. One exception being those areas newly identified as tourist destinations....I do find that alot of tourists have this entitled attitude towards having to deal with other tourists...of coarse thier favorite destination needs to be tourist limited (but never themselves)...
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Old May 23, 19, 2:36 am
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Originally Posted by Metropolitan Airlines View Post
If VCE and TSF adopts my model to levy a EUR 75.00 departure tax, I can sure that zero fare tickets will go immediately.
...and, so will your city's tourism revenues. While you might be annoyed by tourists, I'm guessing that businesses that depend on them have a different viewpoint.
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Old May 23, 19, 2:51 am
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Hiking taxes and other charges on tourists and tourist-service providers is one way to try to put downward pressure on the number of tourists visiting. But that also may act as a way to reduce the local domestic production numbers and/or shift money from consumers and businesses and even more into the hands of government actors able and willing to play to a majority of a highly-vocal local voter base all while accumulating power and increased means for patronage of government-favored-and-picked elements in local society.

The days when only the richest sub 1% of the world could afford a vacation trip to Rome is over, but an increase in who can affordably visit Rome doesn't mark the end of Rome or of the world. Hiking up taxes wouldn't really do much of anything beyond: reduce the local domestic production numbers and/or shift money from consumers and businesses and even more into the hands of government actors playing to the majority of local, highly-vocal voters, all while the government-connected powers accumulate futher power and wealth and all that it means in terms of increased means for patronage of government-favored-and-picked elements in local society.
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Old May 23, 19, 5:45 pm
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Originally Posted by thebigben View Post
The Swiss have an interesting system for public transportation. You pay full fare by default, but you can buy a 50% discount for a year for $150. Thus, residents most often get this discount while tourists (usually) will pay full fare. Because the Swiss rail system is subsidized for about 50% of their budget by the taxpayer, this also makes it a relatively fair alternative.
Actually most tourists aren't paying full price either. The tourist half-fare card is about $120 for one month...there are several lengths of tourist nationwide rail passes plus a number of regional passes. The specific itinerary basically dictates which option is the greater savings. About the only time a tourist wouldn't find it economical to get the half-fare card or a pass, would be if they have extremely minimal and short train/bus/boat trips

Anyway, typically the biggest concerns with over-visitation are localized to specific sites. For example Machu Picchu has implemented measures to address overcrowding (though it's still very crowded) that includes ticket limits for the citadel and the two mountain hikes. Some sites with protected wildlife also restrict visitors.
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