KYOTO – Beginning Monday, visitors to Kyoto will be hit with an increase to their lodging bills as the city’s accommodation tax goes into effect at over 3,200 hotels, traditional inns, and private lodgings.
Kyoto will become the third local government in Japan to implement a lodging tax after Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture.
Visitors at establishments with room rates of under ¥20,000 per night will be charged ¥200 per person, per night. Rooms between ¥20,000 and ¥50,000 will charge ¥500 per person per night and places charging over ¥50,000 will come with a tax of ¥1,000 per person per night.
The city advises tourists to check with their travel agents on whether the new tax is included in any tour package they purchase. Otherwise, visitors will be charged when they check out of the facility.
Between October and March, the end of the current fiscal year, Kyoto estimates the new tax system will create an extra ¥1.9 billion in revenue.
For fiscal 2019, the new tax is expected to bring in about ¥4.56 billion.
“The money will be used for protecting Kyoto’s resources as well as for efforts to relieve the city’s traffic congestion, especially crowded buses, and to crack down on illegal private lodgings,” said Kaoru Yamaguchi, an official with the city’s industry and tourism bureau.
Traffic congestion and illegal private lodgings remain problems in Kyoto, as the former capital struggles to deal with record numbers of tourists.
Last year, more than 15.5 million people stayed in Kyoto lodging facilities, including 3.5 million from abroad, city officials announced in July.
To relieve congestion on crowded city buses, there have been informal suggestions from local politicians and business leaders to use the new tax for larger transportation infrastructure projects.
One project mentioned includes a subway system that would connect Kyoto Station to the Golden Pavilion in the northwestern part of the city, and then over to the main Kawaramachi street in the east before heading back to Kyoto Station.
That, however, would involve gaining approval for construction in and around important cultural properties and from local residents, a long and likely controversial process.
There are no serious discussions in the city assembly at present about using the new revenue for that purpose.
Other probable uses include improving restrooms in subway stations, remodeling them to meet the needs of the physically challenged, and making more information available for tourists in various foreign languages.
Some funds will also be allocated for further city attempts to crack down on illegal private residential lodgings and prevent new ones from springing up, after tough new rules on their operation went into effect in June.
As of August, just over 2,600 facilities were officially classified as simple lodging facilities, as opposed to hotels and traditional inns. Kyoto officials said most were modern homes or apartment buildings.