Bed tax likely to drive away savvy visitors

24 February 2012 by
Bed tax likely to drive away savvy visitors

Already overburdened with punitive red tape and taxes, hoteliers in York are angry that they now may have to impose a £1 per head per night levy upon all guests staying with them in the historic city.

A report commissioned by York City Council to consider ways of raising extra cash to combat budget cuts states that a so-called bed tax "could raise a significant amount of money each year to help alleviate the pressures of being a world-class tourist destination".

There is no doubt that York - with its magnificent Gothic Minster, delightful cobbled streets and claims to be the most haunted city in Europe - attracts a global audience and could potentially fleece both international and domestic visitors for additional money, over and above the £443m they already bring into the city.

But today's travellers are savvy. In these cash-strapped times, a family of four on a three-night leisure break may decide not want to pay the additional £12 on its hotel bill and choose to go elsewhere. For conference and event organisers arranging multiple numbers of bed nights, the extra financial burden will be considerably more.

Earlier endeavours to introduce a bed tax - both nationally and locally - have not materialised. York's attempt to do so should take heed of the Labour Government's rejection in 2007 of a proposed bed tax on the grounds that there was no evidence that it would be viable.

Now is the time to encourage and welcome visitors to our cities, rather than drive them away and potentially damage what is one of the most lucrative sectors of any region's economy - the tourist industry.

By Janet Harmer

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