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Japan's tourism tax sparks industry speculation in Canada

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Japan has introduced a tourism tax for Mount Fuji, charging visitors between $12 and $16 after complaints of overcrowding and pollution began to rise.

This new idea has prompted some in Canada to wonder if our own tourist destinations like Niagara Falls and the Bay of Fundy could be potential options for our own tourism tax.

Dalhousie University professor Lorn Sheehan specializes in tourism destination management, and says the foundation of the tourism industry is to attract visitors and create a memorable experience.

“Tourists want that experience to be as good as it can be,” Sheehan said, adding that a tourism tax has become more common in the industry worldwide. “The concept is that tourists really need to pay for the price of their experience. In some destinations … there may be too many tourists.”

Sheehan said Canadian destinations like Niagara Falls and the Bay of Fundy could be candidates for a tourism tax, based on the large numbers of people who could bring a negative impact, both socially and environmentally.

“What they pay for that experience has not been enough to offset what the community, the region and maybe the country can bear,” Sheehan said.

Halifax tourism operator Dennis Campbell said Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia is a prime example of a destination that could benefit from a tourism tax, applied only to visitors.

“There are about 750,000 visitors to Peggy’s Cove every year and they don’t charge for parking,” Campbell said. “It is a small community of about 29 people who are inconvenienced with all those people on those busy days. If the community were to start to charge two dollars per person, that money could go back to the community.”

Samantha Leon is a tourist visiting Halifax.

“In my home state of Colorado, a lot of our popular hiking areas were being overrun,” Leon said. “We love that people want to enjoy the things that we enjoy, but we sometimes can’t handle the amount of people.”

Leon also said she would not mind paying a tourism tax if she knew where the money goes directly back to the communities. 

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