niagara falls tourist tax

There's a major issue with hidden fees being charged to tourists at Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is one of Canada's top tourist attractions, and welcomes more than 13 million visitors from around the world each year. However, experiencing the beauty and the charm of the region might just come with an added fee. 

According to CBC Marketplace, Niagara Falls tourists have been noticing an extra cryptic fee on their bills over the past few years. 

You can usually find this fee next to the provincial sales tax or the city's accomodation tax on your receipt. It's usually categotized as "NFDF" (Niagara Falls Destination Fee), or "TIF" (Tourism Improvement Fee). 

Not every attraction, hotel, or restaurant in Niagara Falls charges this fee, but CBC has found that the number of businesses adopting the fee is only increasing. 

According to the president and CEO of Niagara Falls Tourism, Janice Thomson, the charge goes to the owner, not the government. CBC Marketplace found that the fee ranges from three to 12 per cent, but there's no set standard for how much patrons are being charged. 

Even among servers and staff, there's no clear consensus on what the fee exactly goes toward.

According to CBC's report, a staffer at the Radisson in Niagara Falls said the fee "pays to recycle," while another employee at The Skylon Tower said the charge pays for renovations and landscaping, but could be removed if requested. 

One server at TGI Fridays told CBC that the fee "goes towards improving the tourist experience," while another at IHOP claimed it went towards "maintenance and fireworks." 

Visitors have been critical of this added fee for a number of years, but calls for its removal have only grown stronger with the influx of businesses adopting the "tourist tax." 

Back in 2017, Ontario's then-Tourism Minister Eleanor McMahon told CBC that, "if businesses in Niagara are not being transparent and they're not telling people what the fee is used for, then not only am I concerned about that, then we'll engage and do something about it." 

Despite the Ontario government permiting destination marketing fees in tourist locations, critics of the fee are urging businesses to be more transparent about the extra charge, which might go undetected by unfamiliar tourists. 

Lead photo by

Shlomo Shalev

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