OSAKA – As early as next year, visitors to the city of Kyoto may see their hotel bills jump by possibly ¥100 to ¥300 per night as the city moves to implement a lodging tax.
On Monday, a committee formed to study the issue submitted its final report to Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa, advising that all hotels, traditional inns, and minpaku (private lodging) businesses charge their customers a small tax, regardless of their rates. Student groups on official school trips would be exempt from the levy.
“Based on the recommendations of the expert committee, a detailed proposal for a lodging tax system will be submitted to the municipal assembly in September and we hope to have it implemented by next year at the earliest,” Kadokawa, who favors the tax, told reporters upon receiving the report.
While the final tax figure must be formally decided by the assembly, the committee looked closely at neighboring Osaka Prefecture, which levies a hotel tax of between ¥100 and ¥300 for rooms that cost at least ¥10,000 per night.
Last month, the committee estimated that even a ¥100 a night surcharge on Kyoto’s 2,178 officially registered lodging facilities would bring in more than ¥2 billion in additional tax revenue per year.
The city says the revenue will be used to upgrade tourism infrastructure, though details on what projects the money will specifically be used for remain unclear.
The number of visitors spending at least one night in Kyoto climbed from 10 million in 2011 to over 14 million last year. This includes the explosion in foreign visitors, which shot from 520,000 in 2011 to 3.18 million last year. Half of all those who stayed in Kyoto spent at least one night, while 34.4 percent spent two nights and 10.4 percent three nights.
A municipal 2016 tourism survey showed that 89 percent of Japanese visitors and 96 percent of foreign visitors expressed at least some satisfaction with Kyoto. However, the survey also revealed that overcrowding at train stations, bus stops, and major tourist sites remains a problem.
Over 90 percent of visitors used Kyoto’s buses or trains in 2016, and calls have been growing within the city for several years to increase the number — and quality — of both.
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