The Mexican state of Baja California Sur — home to resort cities like Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, and La Paz — announced that it will launch its Fund for a Sustainable Baja Sur, beginning Saturday, Nov. 9. Under the fund, foreign visitors staying for more than 24 hours would be expected to pay 350 pesos ($18.50), although giving to the fund is completely optional.
“The charge of 350 pesos per visitor will form the Baja California Sur Sustainability Fund, with which public security, healthcare, education, housing, employment, sports, culture, agriculture, fishing, tourism, and social infrastructure will be strengthened,” said Governor Carlos Mendoza Davis in a Twitter post last week.
The fund was actually approved by the state congress back in 2016, but it wasn’t enforced until now. And unlike the “entry tax” charged to tourists in some international markets, visitors won't be forced or unduly coerced into making a contribution. While the contribution is established by state law, visitors who do not contribute cannot be compelled to do so, ensuring no visitor can be detained or otherwise have their travel restricted as a result of nonpayment.
The government of Baja California Sur will implement the Fund for a Sustainable Baja California Sur to better provide support for important initiatives needed to strengthen security, health, housing, employment, culture and infrastructure statewide.
Other popular tourist destinations have also adopted some form of tourism tax over the years, in order to combat some of the negative effects of overtourism. As more and more people decide to travel to well-known destinations, the influx of visitors can take a toll on the local infrastructure and social services in the area. Problems arise, such as traffic congestion, damage to natural habitats, and disruption of the local landmarks.
Venice has instituted a tourism tax for day-trippers to help curtail the impact visitors have on the local environment and social services. Countries like Spain and Italy, which draw huge numbers of international visitors every year, also charge a tourism tax. And Amsterdam, which already had one of the highest tourism tax rates in Europe, recently added an additional levy of $3 per person per night for visitors staying at a hotel.
The Baja California Sur government expects to raise at least 490 million pesos (US$25.6 million) annually for the fund, which the government says will be used for infrastructure and social services.
Advisors already face an uphill battle in closing sales to Mexico—according to Travel Market Report’s “2019 Outlook on Mexico,” nearly eight in ten advisors said they have clients tell them they didn’t want to travel to Mexico during the past six months.