Kyoto tourists will face new lodging tax next year for stays at hotels and guest houses

Kyodo

Users of hotels, inns and private lodging services in the city of Kyoto will face a new tax next year after the city assembly passed an ordinance on Thursday.

The surcharge, which goes into effect starting next October, will range from ¥200 to ¥1,000 per night for each traveler, set at a rate based on the cost of the room.

Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture have previously imposed a similar tax but only on accommodations that charge more than ¥10,000 per night. The Kyoto ordinance is the nation’s first to include private lodging businesses.

But some areas in Kyoto have several unauthorized private lodging businesses — so imposing the tax equitably could be a challenge for the city.

In 2016, about 55 million people visited the former capital, which now faces such problems as traffic jams and noise pollution.

The city expects to raise close to ¥4.56 billion a year by taxing travelers, with the revenue slated for use to promote tourism.

According to the city, there were 2,479 lodging facilities operating in Kyoto as of the end of September, of which 77 percent are guest houses and other boarding houses.

Due to the increasing number of foreign tourists, the city faces a chronic shortage of accommodations. Some 1.1 million people are staying in illegal private lodging facilities annually, according to one estimate.

In July, the Diet enacted a law that allows property owners across Japan to rent out vacant homes or rooms to tourists after notifying municipalities.

As the law will come into force in July next year, Kyoto is considering setting its own regulations to create a system for collecting taxes. It may designate intermediary agencies between travelers and lodging service providers to collect the taxes.