Tokyo hotels begin charging new tax

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Tuesday began levying a controversial hotel tax that it says will provide money to promote tourism in the area.

The tax will only be applied to rooms costing at least 10,000 yen per night.

The rate will be 100 yen on rooms up to 14,999 yen and 200 yen for all rooms above that figure.

About 300 establishments in Tokyo are subject to the new tax.

Tokyo, the first local authority to levy a hotel tax, hopes to collect 1.5 billion yen a year from the new levy.

Tokyo officials said the revenue will be used to finance the operation of three tourist information centers that have been established in the metropolitan area.

The tax, however, has drawn criticism from municipalities in other prefectures, which often send officials and delegations to the capital to attend conventions and other functions.

Some hotels in Tokyo have also expressed concern over how visitors will react to the tax, especially amid the long-struggling economy.

Officials at Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku said they are prepared to properly explain the new tax to their clients.

“We hope that the metropolitan government will actively do its part to promote tourism, as this tax burden comes at a time when the economic situation is serious,” an official said.