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Minister welcomes protests over bed tax

22 June 2006

The hospitality industry must shout out as loudly as it can against the proposed bed tax, new minister for tourism, Shaun Woodward, said last week.

"I encourage the industry to make its views crystal clear and encourage those campaigning to speak as loudly and vociferously as possible," he told Caterer.

However, Woodward refused to rule out a bed tax, arguing that Sir Michael Lyons's inquiry into local government funding was vital and should remain open to all options "until all the facts and figures are established".

"The Lyons report is not out there to screw the tourism industry or try to work out how to damage it the most," he said. "But while we want to see the industry continue to grow, we have to balance the books."

However, Woodward did admit that even if Sir Michael Lyons recommended implementing a bed tax in his final report in December, the Government would not necessarily follow it through.

"I'm sure there would be the most unholy alliance against it," he admitted.

Woodward's comments came after the Conservative Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, Hugo Swire, joined the Lib Dems and denounced the proposed bed tax as "a stealth tax" which "should never see the light of day."

\* Hospitality businesses must support the UK's new Common Standards rating system, said Tourism Minister Shaun Woodward last week.

On a visit to Duke's hotel in London, the minister was shown new inspection criteria used by VisitBritain inspectors.

"We need to use the Olympics as a catalyst to drive up quality and the Common Standards help recognise where properties may not come up to scratch. It is great the industry is doing this," he added.

By Emily Manson

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