It was recently voted the top UK staycation destination
- but holidaymakers heading to Cornwall
could soon be paying a price to visit its beautiful beaches and countryside.
New plans are being made to charge a 'tourist tax' for out-of-towners. It means you could be paying £1 for every night for the privilege of staying in Cornwall
Council chiefs believe it will raise an extra £25 million to help pay for infrastructure maintenance, but critics have warned that it could sound the death knell for the country's tourist industry.Cornwall
's 500,000 population swells to more than five million in the summer months, and the council argues that this places huge pressure on local services.
The council's corporate director for the economy, Tom Flanagan, suggests that the charges would actually be a 'contribution to improve the tourist experience'.
But he admitted that collecting the tax could pose problems, pointing out there was a risk the council could alienate tourists.
Local tourist groups and businesses have reacted angrily to the proposal.
Kevin Oliver, chairman of the Cornwall Federation of Small Businesses, told the Daily Telegraph
: 'If you introduce a tourist tax you turn people away from Cornwall and why would anybody want to do that?'
Andy Hannan, the Mayor of Newquay, said: 'It puts Cornwall at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the country.
'To levy an extra tax, it puts the businesses in our county at a disadvantage.'
Malcolm Bell, of Visit Cornwall, added: 'I don't think a blunt tax would achieve the objective.'
A Cornwall council spokesman said the idea was not council policy and had not been discussed with councillors.
In the meantime, discover some of Cornwall's most beautiful beaches below (worth an £1 a night?)...
One of Newquay's famous five beaches, this perfect horseshoe-shaped cove is great for swimmers, surfers and families. Don't miss: the Kitchen beach bar, with its laid-back atmosphere and music events, was recently named as one of Europe's finest in an Orange holiday guide. Who needs St Tropez when you can have Lusty Glaze?
With its white sand and frothy rollers, Gwithain beach is a real gem, and a particularly good spot for sunsets. Stretching for more than three miles right up to Godrevy Point, if you get this far you may be lucky enough to see the seal colony. Look out for pods of dolphins, too. Gourmet tip: Stop for a homemade cake at the Jam Pot, a listed historic building overlooking the whole of St Ives Bay.
By far one of the prettiest, safest and expansive beaches in the area, Mawgan Porth offers fabulous swimming, family surfing and body boarding. Top tip: Book in for a family sufing lesson at Kingsurf – the affable owner, Pete Abell, is an inspiration. Oh, and make sure you have a cream tea at the Merrymore Inn afterwards.
Bedruthan Steps forms part of one of the most spectacular sections of the north Cornwall coast. Huge outcrops of volcanic rock are scattered along the length of the beach – you can walk around them at low tide. Perfect if you: are relatively fit. Access to the beach is via a long and very steep staircase.... Arriving is more fun than leaving.
Although it's only a stonesthrow away from bustling Newquay, Crantock is a different world. This is a secret spot for avoiding the summer crowds: due to its relative remoteness, Crantock offers relative calm during the peak season. Top tip: Take the ferry from Newquay to Crantock Bay and stop at the Fern Pit Café
Set in a steep valley, Portreath was once a busy port but it's now left largely to holidaymakers, surfers, and the odd fisherman. Perfect for: Scenic walks. The coastal footpath west towards St Ives Bay offers some jolly good scenery of the coastline, dotted by Deadman's Cove and Hell's Mouth – names which bear testament to the tales of shipwrecks and smuggling in the area.
Backed by lovely dunes and cliffs just a couple of miles outside Padstow, Harlyn Bay offers lots to explore and a sweeping cove popular with surfers. Don't miss: The cliffs at Trevose Head, which offer amazing views towards Pentire Head and Newquay beyond.
Often overlooked by holidaymakers, I think secluded Trevone beach is well worth a visit. A perfect mix of sand and rockpools makes it a lovely spot for families. Perfect if you: love crabbing or collecting shells.
Despite being one of the most popular beaches in north Cornwall, Polzeath still somehow manages to maintain a laid-back, typically Cornish character. The influx of families, surfers, bodyboarders, kayakers and sunbathers all mix happily on this glorious beach in unspoilt surroundings. Best for: Everyone. Last time I was here it was pouring with rain... but the kids still absolutely loved running around in their wetsuits on the open sands.
Bude is all about soft sand and space for everybody, with top-notch surfing. The eastern end of Summerleaze beach you'll find a seawater swimming pool, which is re-filled by the tide every day. Top tip: Bag yourself a beach hut at Summerleaze or Crooklets beach, with prices from £62 per week.