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Bath could become first UK city to introduce tourist bed tax

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Written by: Tim MacFarlan | Posted 11 January 2017 6:00

Bath could become first UK city to introduce tourist bed tax

Bath tourists could soon start to pay a little extra to spend a night in the city.

In doing so, Bath could become the first UK city to introduce the tourist bed tax – an extra charge for staying at a hotel or B&B, on top of the basic room rate and VAT charge.

Councillor Charles Gerrish (Cons, Keynsham North), Bath and North East Somerset Council's cabinet member for finance and efficiency, said a small increase per visitor will help to bridge the £37million worth of cuts required by 2020.

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Plans for the tax are back on the table and are currently being discussed between the local authority and the Government, which would have to approve a change in legislation before the levy could come into effect.

A council spokesman said: "The council has recently started to discuss the matter again with the Government, and is exploring the feasibility with other local authorities. However, no decision can be made without a change in legislation at a national level. Consequently, no such proposal forms part of the current council budget.

"As Bath welcomes such a large number of tourists from all over the world, it is sensible to consider the potential for increasing the council's income to help support local services, invest in the local area and address the financial challenges it faces.

"Should the idea be taken forward in the future, then the council would carefully consider the opinions of local residents and businesses to help shape the scheme."

Mr Gerrish told BBC Radio Bristol: "We're looking at options for generating additional revenue.

"If you go on holiday in Europe, in many countries when you stay in a hotel, you are asked to make a very small contribution to the local authority in addition to your hotel bill.
"When I stay in Italy, for example, I pay something like one euro per head per night.

"It is something we believe in an area that receives as many tourists as we do from all over the world, we ought to be allowed to consider."

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The Spanish Balearic Islands introduced a two euro charge per person, per night last summer, with higher rates of 10 euros for a double room per night in Rome.

It is not clear how much the tax would be or how much revenue it would generate.

Visit Bath CEO David James was critical of the idea but said any tax raised should be "ring-fenced back into tourism."

BANES Council tourism stats:

  • In 2014 there were 969,900 overnight tourist visits to Bath & North East Somerset.
  • There were 4.8 million day visitors to BANES in 2014.
  • In 2015 there were approximately one million visitors to the Roman Baths, 398,319 to the Abbey, 157,851 to the Victoria Art Gallery and 90,147 to the Fashion Museum.
  • In 2015 Bath ranked 12th in the VisitBritain ranking of top cities/towns for international staying visitors.
  • There were 323,000 international visitors to Bath in 2015, a 36.8 per cent increase compared to 2014 when there were 236,000.
  • £411 million was spent by tourists in B&NES in 2014.


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