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Wednesday,  April 17, 2024 5:48 PM 

Travellers who skip Quintana Roo tourist tax will face “digital tracking,” passport observations: SATQ


Travellers who skip Quintana Roo tourist tax will face “digital tracking,” passport observations: SATQ
Cancun, Mexico. (Unsplash)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Travellers in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo who skip paying the region’s tourist tax may be subject to digital tracing and other enforcement actions, according to an update shared Thursday (March 28).

In an email from Toronto-based Travelkore, which is authorized to collect Quintana Roo’s VISITAX – which funds local infrastructure projects and protects assets, like beaches – “significant changes” are on the horizon in terms of how payments are enforced.

Travelkore says that SATQ, the authority overseeing VISITAX, has introduced a new “digital tracking” feature and enforcement system to monitor payments.

READ MORE: Quintana Roo increasing tourist tax, adding penalty fee in 2024, says Travelkore

Travellers who miss paying (or decline to pay) the VISITAX will lead to "observations" being made against their passport number for future visits to the state, Travelkore says, quoting the SATQ.

But it’s unclear as to what kind of “observations” will be made or what specific actions will be taken against offenders.  

“The simple answer is [that] we don’t know precisely,” wrote Tim Scurry, CEO of Travelkore, in an email to PAX.

In Quintana Roo, the rules of law published in February 2023 now allow SATQ to enter into data-sharing agreements, and the landscape there is changing with respects to data, Scurry shared. 

“We have asked for clarifications, but we felt it was best to let people know there is a change afoot and that there has been a very distinct change of language in response to inquiries made,” he wrote.

A bumpy ride

Quintana Roo is home to popular tourist destinations such as Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, and while VISITAX has had a bumpy ride since launching in April 2021 (mainly due to unclear messaging and prices, as well as lax enforcement at CUN airport), the tax is nonetheless mandatory.

As per state law (Article 51 - Octies), it's mandatory for every international visitor to secure a QR code for their stay, and before they leave Quintana Roo.

In July 2023, the head of taxation for Quintana Roo issued an official communication, making it compulsory for travel operators to “inform and collect” VISITAX – which can be paid either upon arrival, during a stay or before leaving Mexico.

The order was certified through the apostille process, which means it has an international standing in law.

But Quintana Roo has had work to do in reaching 100 per cent compliance. Last July, as reported by Sipse, a Mexico-based news outlet, at least four out of 10 tourists (at the time) were not paying the tax.

The state’s initial projection of VISITAX, in March 2021, was to collect some $600 million pesos per year.

But according to data released last summer by the Quintana Roo Tax Administration Service, the annual collection was hovering at the $103 million pesos mark.

Hotel officials in the Mexican-Caribbean region have also expressed concern over the way VISITAX is collected and promoted.

According to Reportur.com, the Mexican Caribbean Hotel Council, last September, submitted a request to Quintana Roo’s Governor to analyze the viability of the tax, noting inconsistencies in how the fee was being portrayed in advertisements, hotels and in CUN airport.

Several unauthorized websites are also collecting the tax – in some cases, at higher prices.

Travelkore is authorized to collect the tax, so is Quintana Roo's government website 

In January, it was revealed that the price of the VISITAX would increase by roughly $2 – to 351 Mexican pesos ($28.50 CAD) on Feb. 1 (although, it appears the price bump hasn’t been universally applied yet).

Should travellers need to a purchase a new QR code or make up for a missed paymentthey will notice the VISITAX QR code has been updated to enhance security and prevent the use of fake or unauthorized sites, Travelkore says.

“Look out for two specific logos on the payment interface to ensure you're accessing Travelkore's secure system,” the company wrote.


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