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EcoTaxes, EcoCharges, Fees

Tourist eco-taxes and charges are defined as being those which are raised on tourists for environmental purposes. They may or may not have a direct impact on the incentives provided to the tourist to pollute, but must in any event be used for environmental purposes (more information).



Example: Tourism eco-tax in the Balearic Islands

Almost 12 million people arrive on the Balearic Islands in Spain each year and compared with a permanent population of only 760.000. The tourists contribute significantly to the local economy, but there are social and environmental costs. The regional government wants to move to a more sustainable form of tourism and plans to finance its programme through a tax on hotel stays. From May 2002, tourists are charged EUR 1 per night eco-tax on all hotel bills. The EUR 24 million that this is expected to raise in the first year will be spent on environmentally friendly projects. The hotel industry was required to cooperate with the introduction of the new measure when it became apparent that the tax enjoyed strong support among residents. Tourists appear to agree with the aim of the tax once it is explained to them. However, the pressure of the hotel sector has led to a failure in its implementation.
Source: Govern de les illes Balears

Cove at Portals Vells - Mallorca Island
Jon Davison (Lonely Planet Images


The main reasons for using environmental taxes and charges are:

  • They are particularly effective instruments for the internalisation of externalities, i.e., the incorporation of the costs of environmental services and damages (and their repairs) directly into the prices of the goods and services or activities which cause them
  • They can provide incentives for tourists and administrators to change their behaviour towards a more 'eco-efficient' use of resources; to stimulate innovation and structural changes; and to reinforce compliance with regulations
  • They can raise revenue which are used to improve environmental expenditures. The funds collected on the basis of the tourist eco-taxes and charges are earmarked exclusively for the improvement of the environmental quality, consequently and basic offer of a tourist destination.

They can be used for the following activities:

    • Cleaning up of beaches and other parts of coastal area
    • Cleaning up of the sea and shallow waters
    • Quality control of sea, beaches and water
    • Collection and deposition of municipal waste
    • Preservation of natural resources, potable water and space in particular
    • Protection of sea and shallow waters, etc.


A diving tax (EUR 2.30 per dive) in the natural reserve in Medes Islands (Catalunya, Spain) generated EUR 130.000 in 1996, i.e. 68% of the budget of the reserve.
Source : EEA, 2003.

The territory of the Cinque Terra located on the coast of north-eastern Italy has established a sustainable tourism project to protect the culture, heritage and environment. Cinque Terra is famous for the five villages that are accessible only by train or trail: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggore. The large number of tourists has a significant impact on the sustainability of the region. The region was recognized as a National Park in 1999 and as a UNESCO protected territory since 1997. The Sustainable Tourism project has established an Environmental Quality Brand for accommodation facilities, a Cinque Terra card, guidelines for tourists and public information about conservation. In order to control tourist numbers, a Cinque Terra Card is provided which includes access to all paths, nature observations centres, botanic paths, picnic areas and bird watching areas. Tourists exploring the region can purchase a 1, 3 or 7-day card which also provides unlimited access to the train and bus between villages. The fee goes to protect the trails, marine and national park (Consorzio Turistico Cinque Terre)


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