Rising travel taxes: Survey shows they're impacting travel plans

By Michelle Baran
October 3, 2012
Courtesy Michelle Baran

As city, county and state governments look for more ways to boost their revenues, they're relying on higher taxes on everything from hotel rooms to airfare, car rentals to bus fares, and travelers are starting to notice, a recent survey shows.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, 49 percent of travelers say they have scaled back their plans due to higher travel taxes, including staying at less expensive hotels and traveling during the off-season, a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults that have completed overnight travel sometime in the last year showed.

"Travelers are often considered an easy tax target, but few public officials understand how rising travel taxes influence consumer behavior and impact the economy," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.

In other words, if higher travel taxes have an adverse effect on traveling, they could ultimately be counterproductive, according to the organization.

The U.S. Travel Association, a non-profit organization that works to promote travel to and within the U.S., commissioned the survey as part of its newly created Travel Tax Institute to research rising travel taxes and their potential impact on the economy.

What it found, was that 68 percent of travelers find hotel taxes to be "very high" (35 percent) or "high" (33 percent); and 66 percent rated airfare taxes as either "very high" (38 percent) or "high" (28 percent).

And the majority of travelers (65 percent) are expecting travel taxes to continue to increase in the coming year.

Then there's what the money from the higher taxes should be used for. The majority of respondents felt that travel tax revenue should at least be spent on enhancing the quality of the visitor experience.

Sixty percent of travelers said travel taxes should be reinvested in travel infrastructure, such as roads and airports. Only 14 percent of those surveyed cited "non-travel related expenditures" such as "contributions to government general funds" as an appropriate use for the taxes.

What about you? Have you noticed higher travel taxes? Have you changed your travel plans because of them? Let us know by voting in our poll or commenting below.

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