The chief executive of Travelodge has warned local authorities of a consumer backlash if they continued with "deeply unpopular and economically dangerous" plans to introduce a bed tax.
Grant Hearn challenged the Local Government Association (LGA) to an open debate with the tourism industry because it "still completely failed to understand how to take advantage of tourism in order to boost local economic development".
At the Economic Prosperity: the local Contribution conference in London today, local government minister Ruth Kelly will call for a stronger role for local government in economic development.
Responding on behalf of the No to Bed Tax campaign, which is backed by Caterer, Hearn said: "If the British public wants more from local government, it should share the cost burden equally and fairly.
"What we find illogical and grossly unfair is a policy like ‘bed tax' that discriminates directly against tourists. People quickly forget the £12b a year tourists pay in tax and the 2.2 million jobs the industry sustains."
According to Hearn, tourist taxes won't bring new investment, but closing down signs and unemployment.
"We fail to see how pricing tourists out of visiting a location will deliver the economic development local authorities want," he said. "The LGA appears hell bent on taxing tourists when they should be lobbying for greater retention of the business rate or greater re-allocation of Central Government funds. They need to wake up."
Travelodge, which operates 16 hotels in London, joined the chorus of disapproval after a Visit London survey revealed 92% of tourism businesses in the capital were completely opposed to "bed tax" and 63% forecast a "major downturn" to the capital's visitor economy.
Meanwhile, guests at holiday resort Butlins are to take to their beds today to protest against the bed tax proposals.
Guests at the three Butlins resorts in Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness have been invited to take part in John and Yoko-style bed-in protests as well as signing a petition opposing the proposed legislation.
They will stay in bed for an extra hour to show their opposition in the mass lay-down protest.
John Dunford, managing director at Butlins, said: "This bed tax proposal would be a huge slap in the face to our loyal guests who rely on Butlins to provide great value fun-packed family breaks in the UK.
"We're mobilising the Butlins community to have its say in opposition to this ludicrous proposal, to send a message to MPs at the forthcoming Party conferences."
By Daniel Thomas
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