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Saturday,  May 18, 2024 7:20 PM 

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


Quintana Roo increasing tourist tax, adding penalty fee in 2024, says Travelkore
Cancun, Mexico. (File photo/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.

The tourism tax passed in 2021 by the Mexican state of Quintana Roo – where popular destinations like Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel are located – is going up in price, according to the head of Travelkore, the Toronto-based company that has been contracted to collect tax payments from foreign tourists. 

In an email to PAX on Monday (Dec. 18), Tim Scurry, CEO of Torkore Group of Companies, wrote that Quintana Roo’s VISITAX, which currently (and officially) costs USD$18.80, will increase on Feb. 1, 2024 when Mexican taxes change.

The details, such as how much the new tax will be, will be shared during the first week of January, he said.

In addition, a penalty fee – for tourists who refuse to pay the tax, which is legal requirement – is also coming in 2024, he said.

“Which I am sure will not be popular, but that's the consequence of not paying as required,” Scurry wrote.

The latest development 

It’s the latest development in Quintana Roo’s turbulent tax that all travel operators, airlines and travel providers are mandated to collect on behalf of the state.

First implemented in April 2021, at the height of COVID-19, VISITAX funds local infrastructure projects, like train and road networks, as well as airports, and protects local assets, such as beaches and Mayan sites.

While the purpose of the tax has been clear, the mechanics of it, from how and where to pay it, to its overall enforcement, hasn’t always been.

In the beginning, despite state attempts to collect the tax – at CUN airport, signs were posted and, at one point, representatives tried stopping tourists ahead of security, reminding people to pay by scanning a QR code – many visitors ignored it due to the fact that proof of payment, in most cases, was not requested.

Online chatter at the time didn’t help matters as both travellers and travel advisors – some, not all – took to social media to proclaim how “I didn’t have to pay it,” or “they’re not checking,” as if to suggest that the tax was optional.

The truth is, it isn’t. In December of 2022, laws were changed to emphasize that VISITAX was mandatory. 

This was further advanced in July when 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.

"There’s no debate"

Still, the narrative around VISITAX, and the duty to pay it, has spun in various directions, as Scurry explained to PAX in an interview in July.

“There’s been some noise about whether it’s a law or not a law,” Scurry said. “There’s been some confusion, but in my view, there’s no debate.”

Some travellers are missing the point about CUN airport’s enforcement of the tax (or lack of), he said.

“I’m hearing people say, ‘I don’t see enforcement.’ But that’s the whole point. You’re able to fly through [the airport] and not have this pushed in your face and be inconvenienced.”

Travel advisors also have a responsibility to know state laws, and follow them, he said.  

“If travel advisors are advising their clients not to pay [the tax], they’re not in compliance with this order,” he said. “It’s an international law. I would not be playing with it.”

The state of Quintana Roo has work to do in reaching 100 per cent compliance.

In 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 in the 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, in September, requested that Quintana Roo Governor Mara Lezama analyze the viability of the tax, noting inconsistencies in how the fee is portrayed in advertisements, hotels and in CUN airport. 

Scam sites

Meanwhile, several unauthorized websites are collecting the tax – in some cases, at higher prices – and clouding the public’s understanding of it. 

Scurry asserts that Travelkore’s user-friendly, QR code-enabled platform is the official and authorized payment system for VISITAX.

A Quintana Roo government letter, dated Dec. 6, that Scurry shared with PAX confirms this.

The document, sent to major airlines and travel companies, says that state-appointed contractor, Urquitem SA de CV, is to collect VISITAX through Travelkore Inc., which is noted as the “certified and authorized company to execute this action.”

Travel advisors can also earn a small referral fee per payment on Travelkore’s payment link.

For more information about VISITAX, go to at www.travelkore.com or https://travelkore.app/faq.

The state of Quintana Roo's website also collects VISITAX. Click here for more. 


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