Iceland Will Soon Charge International Visitors a Tourist Tax

The country is implementing the new tourist fee to protect its iconic natural beauty.

Iceland is taking an extra step to protect its lands, and it is targeting tourists to do so.

The country just announced that it is introducing a tourist tax in order to help protect its "unspoilt nature." Iceland's Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir told Bloomberg that the high number of tourists coming to visit the country's gorgeous natural landmarks definitely impacts the environment, so a tax could help relieve the pressure on that as well as that on climate.

"Tourism has really grown exponentially in Iceland in the last decade, and that obviously is not just creating effects on the climate," Jakobsdóttir said. "It's also because most of our guests who are coming to us are visiting the unspoiled nature, and obviously it creates a pressure."

Tourism in Iceland has soared over the past few years. According to the Iceland Tourism Board, between 2010 and 2018 tourist numbers grew by more than 400%, reaching more than 2.3 million annual international visitors. In 2022, after the pandemic-mandated travel pause, tourism in Iceland has seen dramatic growth again, and counted 1.7 million international tourists last year alone.

The tax would help curb this problem as well. With more money funding the tourism industry, the country would be able to invest more in public transportation and infrastructure, and it could repair any damage done to public areas and landmarks. "It is intended to expand taxation to cover passengers on cruise ships alongside hotels," a spokesperson for Iceland's Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs told USA Today. "Recognizing the impact on our seas as well as land."

Tourists shouldn't expect the tax to be a huge financial burden. According to Jakobsdóttir, the new tourism tax will not be high, though it is still unclear as of this writing how much it will cost. As the spokesperson for Iceland's Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs pointed out, the tax is supposed to take effect in 2024.

Entry fees and tourist taxes aren't a novelty in modern traveling. In recent years, and in some cases, after the pandemic, cities around the world have begun collecting fees from international tourists in order to help preserve the places they plan to visit. Venice, Italy will start implementing a tourist tax in 2024, while Manchester, UK has already introduced its own visitor fee since this past April.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.