Hoteliers in Bath have appealed to the council to oppose calls for a bed tax in the area.
Some 20 operators have written a letter to Bath and North East Somerset Council boss Tim Warren to drop plans described by one signatory as “headline grabbing taxation”.
Operators who have put their name to the letter include Lucknam Park chairman Harry Murray (pictured), Royal Crescent hotel general manager Jonathan Stapleton and Queensbury hotel owner Laurence Beere, alongside BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim.
The letter, which has also been sent to local MPs Ben Howlett and Jacob Rees-Mogg, said: “We are concerned by the threatened imposition of a tax on visitors to Bath and North East Somerset who make a critical contribution to an economy on which 9,774 jobs in Bath and North East Somerset depend. Our industry plays a critical role in the promotion of Bath and making sure our guests have a great experience as they visit the many attractions our city and the wider area has to offer. As a result a wide range of sectors including retail, entertainment and transport benefit from business generated by hospitality and tourism.”
It added: “There are no powers for locally set taxes on tourists and to allow them would require a Parliament to enact in Primary Legislation. Given the challenges our industry faces, in Bath and nationally, and the leading contribution we continue to make to the economy our industry is committed to campaign strongly against any measure singling out our businesses and our guests with a specific bed tax.
“I would very much welcome your support on this important issue to our businesses and set out a positive vision for the future of tourism in Bath which does not involving taxing the visitors on which our local economy depends, in order to offset a shortfall in local authority funding.”
Beere said that he had been among the signatories because he objected to hospitality being singled out for taxation, adding that it would be impossible for operators to pass the cost on.
He said: “As a resident and business owner who has lived in Bath for over 20 years, we understand the significant pressure that local authorities face in balancing the books. However we strongly object to the notion that a single sector of the economy should be targeted for additional taxation.
“As a business we will already have to find a further £20,000 this year as a result of the increase in business rates imposed from April 2017. The idea that hotels will be able to collect a Bed Tax and pass this cost on to customers is simply ill conceived.”
He said he supported the general principle of taxation, but added: “However it is wrong to target a single sector of industry, when there are numerous sectors of industry, not least of all retail, that benefit from the tourism economy. A headline grabbing taxation on hotels will put at risk jobs and business viability in this sector.”
The full list of signatories
Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive, British Hospitality Association
Harry Tedstone, Chairman, Bath Independent Guesthouse Association
Karen Barnard-Weston, Bloomfield House
Laurence Beere, Proprietor, The Queensberry Hotel & Olive Tree Restaurant
Hugh & Ruth Cartwright, Kissing Gate Cottage
Ajay Chathley, Proprietor, The Kennard
Caron Cooper, Fosse Farm House
Anna Fraenkel, Three Bloomfield Bed and Breakfast
Peter Hancock FIH MI, Chief Executive, Pride of Britain Hotels
Sarah Holden, Hotel Director, The Pig near Bath (part of Home Grown Hotels)
Nici Jones, Three Abbey Green
Alan Jones, Three Abbey Green
Derek Merkl, Three Abbey Green
Harry Murray MBE FIH, Chairman, Lucknam Park
Rupert Nandi, Manager, The Edgar Townhouse
Tim O’Sullivan, General Manager, Apex City of Bath Hotel
Jonathan R. Stapleton MI FIH, General Manager, The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa
Ian Taylor, Proprietor, Abbey Hotel
Simona Thompson, 4 Percy Place
Richard & Penny Williamson, 1 Manvers Street
Sue Wright, Three Abbey Green