London's mayor Ken Livingstone must back the hotel industry and join the fight against a bed tax, according to a panel of the city's leading hoteliers.
Speaking at a meeting in Home House last Wednesday (5 July), Roberto Pajares, general manager of London's Trafalgar Hilton hotel, called on the mayor to support the capital's hotel industry and oppose the bed tax.
David Coubrough, chairman of Home House's owner Bespoke Hotels, agreed: "It's a poll tax for the hotel sector. We're seen as low-hanging fruit by the Government and we need to have top voices shouting their opposition to this iniquitous proposal."
Simon Hirst, general manager of One Aldwych, also called on the tourism minister Shaun Woodward to support the industry and arrange a forum to hear the sector's views.
He said: "Woodward needs to show he's listening to us. This will have a real impact on people's livelihoods and he needs to be aware of the ramifications. We need to stimulate demand and generate tourism, not increase the cost of hotels," he added.
A spokeswoman for Woodward stressed that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was keen to hear industry concerns.
"Ministers have had discussions with a number of industry representatives on this point bed tax].
"They will continue to represent tourism industry interests in this, as in other cross-government policy areas," she added.
Malcolm Moss, Tory shadow minister for culture, media and sport, warned that the industry must continue campaigning in advance of the publication of Sir Michael Lyons's inquiry into local government financing.
He said: "Once it's a formal proposal it will be much harder to kick into the long grass. We must alert the public now that this is a stealth tax on people's holiday and leisure time."
Ken Livingstone was unavailable to comment.
By Bmily Manson