Tourists should contribute more to the splicing team, says Industry Minister Jan Christian Vestre (Ap). The purpose of the splice is to provide better facilities for visitors as well as permanent residents and local businesses at popular tourist locations. As outlined in the proposal, an additional “visitor contribution” will be charged for all accommodation, both hotels, campsites and private Airbnb-type offers – combined with a new tourist tax on parking and when cruise ships call. A separate fee for day visits may also apply. The government is thus kicking off again a ball that was left cross-politically dead a few years ago.
The proposals Vestre is now announcing are a long way in line with the recommendations from the Travel Destinations Election the Solberg government managed to appoint just before its departure, which was tasked with investigating more sustainable tourism and more attractive local communities. Vestre’s signals have received a somewhat mixed reception from tourism organisations. But the starting point – or backdrop – is that tourism has been highlighted as a national investment area, which means that Norway will capture a larger share of the growing tourist flows in the world. More than 180,000 people work in this industry, many of them in rural areas.
Certain tourist gems are obviously becoming far too popular. But where overtourism causes an unsustainable strain on nature and towns, more powerful measures are probably needed than making it a little more expensive to sleep and park. In most places, however, you can go a long way with some simpler measures to overcome littering, wear and tear on roads, droppings on detours, and so on. Then one can slowly wonder why tourist companies and municipalities are not able to handle facilitation as necessary expenses for the acquisition of income to a greater extent.
Tourist tax or “visitor contribution” is found in many places around the world. And what variant the government ends up with after concrete proposals have been consulted on remains to be seen. Vestre promises good dialogue with all parties. Locally designed trial schemes based on local conditions, and based on national guidelines, are worth a try. But it must be emphasized from the start that the money collected is earmarked for the purpose – without seeping out to other good purposes.