The idea that Dublin should consider introducing a tourist tax to be levied on those who spend a night in the city is back in the headlines. Such measures have been commonplace in many continental European cities for years. Anyone who has spent the night in Paris or Barcelona will be familiar with passing a few euros to the hotel reception at the end of their stay to settle the amount that they owe. However, in Ireland and the UK, the idea has always proved a relatively controversial one and hotels, guest houses and other tourism-related enterprises are queuing up to oppose the plan.
Anyone taking a brief glance at some of the European cities that have already implemented a tourist tax would struggle to claim that it has majorly dented the flow of tourists. Barcelona, which has a tourist tax that varies depending on the length of stay, and the standards of accommodation, has experienced a significant tourism boom over the last decade or so. There, the complaint is not about the tax itself, but that some people, that are renting out their home as holiday accommodation, are not collecting and paying the tax. Similar complaints abound in other cities where holiday rentals have become the norm.
The success of any such tax in Dublin would likely depend on how it is structured and implemented. There would probably be pressure to collect it at the end of a stay, and not force hotels to include it in published room rates, as Dublin hotel accommodation is already relatively expensive by European standards. If the local authority gets the model right, then the tourism tax could generate tens of millions of euros each year, and provide an answer to local residents who believe that tourists are beginning to create a negative impact on their quality of life in Dublin.