UK late to the table on tourism tax
By Diane Cooke
A tourist tax - likely to be about £1 a night added on to a hotel room - would bring in £2.4 million a year in Bath. So, put into the context of council cuts, it's not an unreasonable suggestion.
But, as David James, Visit Bath’s chief executive, says why would this beautiful city want to be labelled the 'tax city' of Britain. It would make more sense for London to lead the way.
The idea of putting £2.50 a night - bringing in £100 million a year - on to the cost of a room in a London hotel has already been discussed and the capital's mayor Sadiq Khan is in favour and has endorsed a study into it.
Visitors to popular destinations such as New York, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Amsterdam already face such a tax, which would be used to promote tourism if it was introduced in London.
Camden Council told the commission that it was in favour of the capital having the power to introduce a tourism or hotel levy to help fund local services which are under pressure as a result of visitor numbers, as well as boost the cultural offering of the area.
Evidence from the Visitors' Art Foundation (VAF), which supports London's museums, galleries and libraries, claimed that if the levy was set at £2.50 per visitor per night it would generate around £102 million each year.
Cruise ships as well as Airbnb and similar websites could also be included within the scope of such a levy, the VAF said.
A Sustainable Tourist Tax was introduced for visitors to Spain’s Balearic Islands, which includes destinations like Ibiza and Majorca, from July 2016.
The charge applies to each holidaymaker aged 16 or over and the money raised from the tax will go towards the protection of resources on the islands.
The cost of the new ‘eco tax’ varies depending on the hotel’s star rating.
Hotels with a one to three-star rating will attract a €1 (79p) charge for four -and five-star hotels will attract a €2 (£1.58) levy per person per day, though the tax is halved for stays of nine nights or more.
So a family of four travelling to Majorca staying for a fortnight in a four-star hotel can expect to pay over £70.
Malta also adopted a ‘tourist tax’ in 2016. Visitors over the age of 18 now have to pay €0.50 (40p) per night capped at €5.
Many other countries including the Netherlands, Portugal, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia have also imposed taxes on visitors.