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My BF and I just came back from a vacation in Cyprus (TRNC). My tour guide said there is a €39 airport departure tax, per person, payable directly to him in cash. I paid him, but didn't receive a "tax paid" ticket to show at the airport -- nor did they ask for one.

I looked around on the internet and didn't find any mention of a tax. Is there an airport departure tax? Was I ripped off?

If this charge was not legitimate, what do I do? Contact the tour company? The authorities? I live in Germany and this was a German travel company, James Cook.

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    Sounds like a scam indeed. You could complain to Cook, but I doubt it'll have any effect. File it in lessons learned. Next time you're asked for a fee, pay it directly to the intended recipient. Not the tour guide... – user67108 Nov 25 '17 at 6:30
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    As a little sidenote, I was in Cyprus myself and didn't pay any departure tax – Crowley Astray Nov 25 '17 at 13:21
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    Good luck suing - Northern Cyprus is a 'state' recognised only by Turkey – Nik Kyriakides Nov 25 '17 at 15:48
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    Complain but don't expect anything. Lessons in life normally cost money and this is one of the cheaper. – DonQuiKong Nov 25 '17 at 17:08
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    Please once you get the result of your complain come back to this question and let's know what happened – Ulkoma Nov 25 '17 at 21:58
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I'm sorry to say you were scammed, and the charge was not legitimate.

While many airports charge departure tax/service charge, the majority of airports nowadays include this charge into the ticket price.

There are still ones which do not, and charge the tax from passengers (their usual rationale is that some categories of passengers are tax exempt). I flew through a number of those in South Asia. However in this case you are issued a receipt or a stub, and it is checked when you go through security or immigration (to make sure you indeed paid the tax). Since you didn't mention any checks, this is not the case.

Now what to do. It is unlikely you will get any money back (the guide is likely to say that this didn't happen and its your word against his). However it still makes sense to notify the tour firm and authorities, because:

  • The tour company needs to know about your complaints against the guide. While it is your word against his, it might be possible that other people complained about him before, and a series of complaints is likely to have consequences.

  • Complaining to local authorities, such as those regulating tour companies, works the same way. If the tour company decides to do nothing, but there are complaints against the company, the series of complaints is also likely to have consequences, such as revocation of license.

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    Actually since the tour seems to have been organized by a German company, I would definitely complain to them and see some chance of being refunded the scammed fee. If the guide was provided by them, they may not have a legal but certainly a moral responsability, and the prefer to have customers come back. There is no guarantee of a refund but worth asking! – mts Nov 25 '17 at 8:50
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    @mts In my opinion, the biggest reason to complain is to get this scammer out of the system. As long as everybody thinks "c'mon it's just 80 bucks", this guy will never stop, and the total price paid can easily be in high thousands. – yo' Nov 25 '17 at 14:30
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    I think it's unlikely that the tour operator will think it's the customer's word against the guide's. Even if there is no refund, that guide will not be hired again. – Andrew Lazarus Nov 26 '17 at 4:59

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