Tokyo (東京), Osaka (大阪), and Kyoto (京都) are considered as the most visited cities by overseas visitors in Japan. These three are bigger compared to other cities in terms of population, economy, and other criteria. If you are planning to visit any of these three cities, you must know that your trip is going to be slightly expensive due to the implementation of a new type of city tax informally called the “tourist tax.”
Did you know that more than 24 million foreigners visited Japan in 2016, making Japan one of the most visited countries in the world? Out of this 24 million, most of them stayed in big cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. The tourist influx is so heavy that major cities in Japan need more infrastructures to accommodate all these people. Even the Japanese local governments feel that there is a need for improving existing conditions to accommodate the never-ending tourist influx every year. In fact, Japan is seeing a double-digit growth rate in tourist influx every single year.
If you are going to stay in Kyoto from April 2018, your overnight stay will most likely be a bit expensive. The local government is planning to add a tourist accommodation tax on hotel and ryokan stays in Kyoto. This includes even Airbnbs and other private lodging places that come under the business called “minpaku (民泊),” the Japanese term for accommodation provided by ordinary people in their private apartments or houses. If you are planning to stay for a long time, this is definitely going to worry you a little bit. The longer you stay, the more expensive your accommodation price is going to get.
Tokyo and Osaka have already introduced this tourist accommodation tax in 2002 and 2017, respectively.
Kyoto is one of the popular cities everyone would like to visit during their trip to Japan. So, how much are accommodation prices in Kyoto going to be hiked? The figure might vary from ward to ward. An overnight stay that costs more than 10,000 yen in Kyoto would most likely incur a tax rate that ranges from 1% to 3% (i.e. 100 yen to 300 yen). If you want to know the exact tax amount, you must wait until August 2017 when the tax committee appointed reveals the details.
Tokyo has implemented the accommodation tax in 2002 as the number of foreigners staying in the city has been steadily increasing. It was the first among all the cities in Japan to implement this new tax. However, when compared to that of major European cities such as Barcelona, Paris, and Venice, the tax levied is much less. If you are going to stay in semi-luxury or business hotels that charge 10,000 yen or more for a night, be prepared to pay some 200 yen more.
Osaka has brought in this new tax on foreign tourists just recently, in January 2017. It is going to be implemented on all the possible stay options effective from July. However, this tax is going to affect the business districts in Osaka rather than the downtown.
This tourist accommodation tax is not going to affect your bank balance too much as it is small. However, you must pay the service charges, consumption tax, and others along with this accommodation tax.
Furthermore, the city governments of Kyoto, Tokyo, and Osaka are planning to extend this tourist tax to other services like food, shopping, etc. There is a relief proposal for school children that is under discussion in Kyoto. The revenue collected from tourist taxes are used in improving the experience of tourists and providing better facilities for them.
Ever wonder how much tax you are paying by looking at your hotel bill? Well, if you are planning to stay longer or if you are visiting Japan multiple times, you should keep this new tax in mind.