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Iceland, Cambodia battle over-tourism with new tax & restrictions

Iceland, Cambodia battle over-tourism with new tax & restrictions

Friday, March 17, 2017

REYKJAVIK — Iceland, already known for being an expensive destination, is considering a new tourist tax that would limit the impact of over-tourism.

According to The Star, the country’s government is considering ways of raising taxes in the tourism sector, which include a special licence required for bus companies and tour operators and increasing the existing levy on hotel rooms.

The country is experiencing a surge in visitors – up from 490,000 in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2016 – thanks in large part to the popular TV series ‘Game of Thrones’. Considering that Iceland’s total population is less than 340,000, the country simply cannot keep up with tourist demand.

Tourism Minister Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir said in a recent interview that “all of us have to be careful not to become victims of our own success.” She said that overcrowding may harm natural treasures like the Blue Lagoon and Jokulsarlon, and that “if we allow more people into areas like that, we’re losing what makes them special.”

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A new tax will not go over well with tourists, who already face steep prices when visiting Iceland. Taking a taxi from the airport to the city centre costs about $150, while the cost of alcoholic beverages is twice as much as in other European destinations.

Facing a similar situation is Cambodia, which says over-tourism is damaging the infrastructure of the Angkor temple complex, its most famous attraction. The Telegraph reports that the hill at Phnom Bakheng has become so overwrought with tourists during sunsets that Aprasar’s Tourism Management Agency will restrict the area to a maximum 300 visitors at any one time.

Phoeun Sophoan, the president of the Agency, told Agence Kampuchea Presse that the organization has arranged alternative places for tourists to see the sunset on the hill without actually going up to the temple.

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