Majority would support UK tax on tourists – survey

More than half of people think their council should be given the power to introduce a tourism levy, a new survey suggests.

Some 53% of 2,023 UK residents polled for the Local Government Association (LGA) want their local authority to be able to charge a small fee to help support tourism in their area.

Just 31% were against the suggestion, while 16% were unsure.

The money raised could go towards services such as public toilets, parking and the provision of visitor information.

The idea of a tourist levy has been proposed by officials in several UK cities, including Bath, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London and Oxford.

Many European cities have tourism taxes collected by hotels, with some varying the amount based on the star rating of the accommodation.

These include Venice (4.50 euros per night in a four-star hotel), Barcelona (up to 2.25 euros per day) and Amsterdam (7% tourist tax plus three euros per night).

The LGA commissioned analysis by consultancy firm WPI Economics which found that a £1 per night levy applied in a local area in England could raise between £238,000 and more than £7 million each year, depending on the area.

The report acknowledged that tourism taxes could have an impact on visitor numbers.

It also stated it would be “unfair” to levy charges on visitors using hotels but not non-traditional accommodation such as Airbnb.

The LGA urged the Government to use the Tourism Sector Deal, launched in June 2019, to invite councils to pilot local tourism levies.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who chairs the LGA’s culture, tourism and sport board, said: “Tens of millions of overseas visitors come to the UK each year, spending billions of pounds.

“Giving councils the ability to introduce a local tourism levy means they could reinvest some of the tax income generated by this tourism into their local area into the services that are attracting visitors.

“Councils are best-placed to boost visitor economies and are trying to find innovative ways of supporting and boosting culture and heritage.

“Significant funding and demand pressures are hampering these efforts.

“The time has come for a national debate about what a tourism levy could look like, how it could be successfully introduced across the country and how money raised could be reinvested locally to help councils create places where people want to live, work and visit.”

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