Taxing Tourism in Developing Countries : Principles for Improving the Investment Climate Through Simple, Fair, and Transparent Taxation
A good investment climate for tourism, underpinned by a sound tax regime, can play a central role in a government's growth and development strategy. Yet in many countries, tax systems for the tourism sector are characterized by exemption schemes and instruments that generate little revenue and burden business. This note focuses on the three main issues facing policymakers dealing with tourism taxation in developing countries: fiscal incentives, sector-specific levies, and value-added tax (VAT). It discusses different policy options to encourage tourism investments while ensuring sustainable revenue collection. A good business environment for tourism is essential to support the industry's central role in many countries' development strategies. Investments in the sector, which has significant growth potential among developing countries, can have important positive spillovers on poverty reduction. Tourism is a complex industry of numerous subsectors. It is challenging to define exactly what constitutes a tourism product and how to tax it; tourism is not a single commodity, but rather a collection of many different goods and services provided by a wide range of suppliers. The tourism value chain encompasses a variety of different actors, including hotels, air carriers and transport companies, tour operators, travel agents, rental agencies, and countless suppliers from other sectors.