• Kyodo

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The town of Kutchan, located near Hokkaido’s popular Niseko ski resort, plans to introduce a 2 percent lodging tax under an ordinance passed by the municipal assembly Thursday.

The town aims to enact the tax next November following consultations with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. If realized, it will be the first fixed-rate lodging tax in Japan. Fixed-amount taxes have already been introduced in other parts of the country.

Under the ordinance, guests staying at hotels, inns and private lodging services in the town will be taxed 2 percent of their accommodation fees.

The town expects to bring in ¥300 million a year by taxing travelers who stay overnight at accommodations. It plans to use the revenue to promote tourism, expand multilingual guidance services and increase the number of barrier-free facilities in the town.

The area is known for its abundant powder snow and draws 140,000 lodgers from overseas a year, with many coming from Asia and Australia.

The number of visitors to the town is on the rise. In 2017, about 1.6 million people visited the resort area, which has a population of just 15,000. As a result of its small population, the area faces a serious shortage of tourism services and facilities, including transportation, car parks and information desks.

Tokyo, Osaka Prefecture and the city of Kyoto also impose a lodging tax on travelers, but they levy a fixed amount rather than a fixed percentage of the accommodation fee.

In Kyoto, for example, lodgers are charged ¥200 for accommodations that charge less than ¥20,000 per person per night and ¥500 for accommodations charging more than ¥20,000 and less than ¥50,000.

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