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Dubai travellers to be hit with Tourism Dirham tax

As of 31st March 2014, travellers staying in hotels, apartments, guesthouses and holiday homes in Dubai will be charged a daily fee.

With between AED 7 (£1.17) and AED 20 (£3.33) charged per room per night, depending on the accommodation category and rating, so-called ‘Tourism Dirham’ tax could add up to £23 to a seven-day holiday. Despite being one of the fastest growing cities in the world Dubai claims that the money is needed to bring it in line with other international tourist destinations.

The funds raised from the Tourism Dirham will pay for the Expo 2020 projects and drive the promotion of tourism in the Middle Eastern emirate. Dubai doubled its visitors from five million to 10 million in the eight years to 2012, but Expo 2020 aims to do that again by 2020 by attracting 20 million visitors to the city. The project is expected to cost the equivalent of £5.3 billion.

Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said that the introduction of the tax will “ensure our continued competitiveness on the global stage, which will be reflected positively on the growth of two of our economic pillars - trade and tourism,". Dubai isn’t the first destination to consider levying a tax on its tourists.

In 2011, Venice introduced a fee of up to €4.50 (£4) a night to its visitors. Accommodation, including everything from hotels to campsites, across the city and islands were expected to pay. The tax was thought to be used to fund urgent repairs and maintenance to the infrastructure under threat from rising sea levels. Last year, Thailand revealed that it wanted to charge every foreign visitor £10. The charge would be used for unpaid medical bills – something that wouldn’t be necessary if all tourists invested in travel insurance.

Despite both of these taxes being subject to criticism from tour operators and industry officials, the Tourism Dirham has not. Many tour operators, including Hayes and Jarves, Trailfinders and Travelbag.co.uk, have stated that they do not expect the tax to have any significant effect on bookings. The latter has even reported an increase in demand for travel to Dubai in 2014.

Date Created: 06 February 2014

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