The new US$18.50 tourism tax launched by Los Cabos that is set to start this weekend is not mandatory for visitors to pay, according to the Fund for a Sustainable Baja California Sur.
The fund, which was approved by the state congress back in 2016, was not enforced until now. And unlike the “entry tax” charged to tourists in some international markets, visitors will not be forced or unduly coerced into making a contribution.
“Our communications with Los Cabos Tourism indicate the new tax is not mandatory. Rather, it is a contribution, and no visitor will be forced to pay,” said Jack Richards, president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays. “We are advising our travelers to Los Cabos this is voluntary and not required.”
While the contribution is established by state law, visitors who do not want to contribute cannot be compelled to do so, ensuring no visitor can be detained or otherwise have their travel restricted as a result of nonpayment.
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.
The government of Baja California Sur said it will implement the Fund for a Sustainable Baja California Sur to better provide support “to strengthen public safety, health, education, housing, employment, sport, culture, agricultural and fisheries development, and tourism or social infrastructure throughout the state.”
The government is adding up to 50 employees at airport kiosks to help with visitors who want to pay the tax. The employees, according to the website of the Fund for a Sustainable Baja Sur, will be fluent in English and other languages. Other kiosks will be installed at hotels in Los Cabos.
To ensure the funds collected will be spent on the community as intended, the trust will be supervised by a committee that includes representatives of the government of the state of Baja California Sur, the Ministry of Finance and Administration, the Coordinating Council of Los Cabos, the General Secretariat of the Government, the Los Cabos Tourism Trust, the Los Cabos Hotel Association, private representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, local community industries, schools and universities of the five municipalities of Baja California Sur; and the Ministry of Tourism, Economy and Sustainability, among others.
The Baja California Sur government expects to raise at least 490 million pesos (US$25.6 million) annually for the fund.
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 had clients tell them they didn’t want to travel to Mexico during the past six months.