By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: Why is travel tax so expensive? I have asked countless people about this and I always seem to get an answer of “I don t quite know.” Why does it vary from place to place?

A: Nothing is certain but death and taxes said Benjamin Franklin. Travel tax to boot has always had its debate. Hotels in certain cities administer what’s known as a destination marketing fee. In Toronto, for example there’s an additional 3% DMF plus the usual GST/PST. According to the Greater Toronto Hotel Association all of the money generated from the DMF is dedicated to the Greater Toronto Area’s promotional efforts. The DMF is collected and administered by the Greater Toronto Hotel Association, which forwards all of the money to Tourism Toronto, the organization responsible for promoting our city to potential visitors around the world.

Air suppliers will argue it’s to pay for security charges, airport improvement fees, and the like. Right now Winnipeg MP Jim Maloway has a private members bill known as the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights he wants introduced. His web site says, “Maloway believes we should follow the lead of the European Union, where passengers are compensated when flights are delayed or cancelled, even if it's due to poor weather. They should also be protected when they are bumped from a flight or have baggage problems.” He’s asking for your opinion. You can read the bill’s summary and have your say and vote at his web site,

In the US, the US lodging industry looks like it’ll be seeing a slight decrease in fees and surcharges. That’s according to Dr. Bjorn Hanson, Clinical Associate Professor at NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management who recently reported in that the forecast for U.S. lodging industry fees and surcharges in 2009 is for the first decrease in the amounts collected since 2001. “This decline follows a five-year period (2003–2007) of steady increases and/or record amounts collected.

In 2008, fees and surcharges remained stable at approximately $1.75 billion, the same amount collected in 2007,” he wrote and also reported, “These fees and surcharges have become an important source of revenue and profits for full service hotels and resorts because the new and increased charges reflect little or sometimes no new costs.” Charges could include: mini-bar restocking fees; baggage holding fees after checking out of a hotel; early departure fees; reservation cancellation fees and more. It you’re not sure on your trip’s total expenses, always ask for a break-down and be sure to inquire on surcharges and fees.


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