By Cailey Rizzo
December 11, 2019

The Japanese island of Miyajima, famous for its orange torii gate, will now charge tourists a tax to visit.

The island, a short ferry ride away from Hiroshima, is a popular day trip spot for visitors where tourists make sure to take pictures of the torii gate — which appears sunken in the water at high tide —and its 12th-century Itsukushima Shrine.

But the tax, which CNN reported will go into affect in 2021, likely won’t deter visitors from the island. The current proposed rate is 100 yen (or about $1) per person.

Even that small amount per person could translate into big income for Miyajima. Last year, about 4.31 million people visited the island. But there are only about 1,600 people living on the island.

The tax is the brainchild of Taro Matsumoto, the new mayor of Hatsukaichi city in Hiroshima prefecture. Money from the tax are intended to improve ferry service, preserve the environment and work on new methods of waste disposal.

“The island needs maintenance and repair work, including placing power lines underground and repairing roads," he said at a press conference after his election last month, according to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. "I'm focused on introducing the tax as a stable source of income.”

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A similar tax was discussed in 2008 and 2015, but the plan was abandoned both times, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

The tax could be collected as an additional fee on the ferries from the mainland, built into a new cost of the ferry rides or worked into admission fees at the island’s popular tourist attractions.

Miyajima is far from the only place to implement a tourist tax. In Okinawa prefecture, four islands have added a tax to the price of their ferry rides. They say it hasn’t affected tourism rates — however much of the revenue is from locals who use the ferry to commute to the mainland.

Additionally, earlier this year the Japanese government introduced a “sayonara” tax, which anyone who buys a round-trip ticket to the country will have to pay extra. The tax works out to about $9 per person and goes towards supporting Japan’s tourism infrastructure.

And starting next year, Amsterdam will have the highest tourist tax in Europe, about $3 per person per night. However, it’s far from the highest tourism tax in the world. In Bhutan, tourists are charged between $200 and $250 per day they’re in the country — although that fee covers their accommodation, transportation, guide and food.

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