Hospitality leaders rally against tourism tax plans

Astra – Hamster’s Ball LB
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Senior figures within the UK hospitality industry have hit out over tourism tax proposals that could have a significantly damaging effect on the crucial market sector.

Key voices within the hospitality industry have urged chancellor Philip Hammond policy to override plans to impose a tourism levy on overnight stays in major UK cities.

A number of councils, including those in Birmingham, Bath and Edinburgh, have brought forward proposals that would put a per-person per-night charge on hotel stays in their respective areas, much to the chagrin of those in the industry.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, has been one of the most prominent voices against such practices and in a draft letter to Hammond she commented that the addition of any such levy would be of great detriment.

“I am writing to convey our profound opposition to such policy and our sincere concern over the impact any additional taxation would wreak on an already-strained and over-burdened sector,” she said.

Besides the clear pecuniary burden any practice would put on business owners Nicholls said a tourism tax would also “create bizarre incentives” for visitors to not use hotel properties during their stays.

“Conversely, those who come for a day trip, stay with friends or use a home-sharing service, such as Airbnb, will not contribute a penny, despite using local amenities. This is inequitable and illogical,” she said.

The number of councils looking into imposing a form of tourism tax has grown in the last 12 months following an announcement that hotel stays in Birmingham will have a levy applied to them when the city hosts the Commonwealth Games in 2022.A number of other local bodies have fol- lowed suit since but each revelation has been met with consistent criticism from those in the industry.

Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Our visitor economy is a huge success story,contributing more than £125bn to the economy annually and providing vast tax receipts to pay for public services.

“Small firms operating in the tourism sector are already up against high business rates, rising employment costs and surging input prices, particularly where utilities are concerned.

“Adding tourist taxes to the mix would mean yet another reason for small B&B, hotel and hostel owners to spend time away from running and growing their firms.”

The UK hospitality industry already faces one of the highest tax rates in Europe and is under growing threat from the proliferation of accommodation services such as Airbnb, which itself has been criticised for its negative impact on various continental cities.

As far as the wide ranging industry is concerned,the onus of government should be supporting the crucial hospitality sector, not allowing it to be further burdened at such a crucial time.


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