Labour Councillors have received strong support from Westminster residents for the idea of introducing a small ‘Tourist Tax’ on hotel and Airbnb room occupancy. In particular, residents support the idea of a ‘Tourist Tax’;
- To help pay for the cost of providing facilities which tourists enjoy – keeping the environment clean and tidy, maintaining parks, street lights and open spaces, public toilets, policing and emergency services
- To help to pay for specialist inspectors to crack down on illegal short-lets.
- To put Westminster in line with other capital cities across the globe which residents visit and pay a small ‘Tourist Tax’. For example, Athens, Paris, Rome and Florence charge a “progressive visitor levy” which charges a higher tax for a higher class of room. Rome charges €7 for a five-star room and €4 for a three-star room.
Westminster Labour Councillors say introducing a small Tourist Tax on hotel bedroom occupancy could raise about £25 million a year, based on a flat rate of £1.60p per room
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour Environment and City Management spokesperson, said:
“There is strong support from Westminster residents for introducing a small ‘Tourist Tax’ to pay for the costs of improving and maintaining high quality public services, such as street cleaning, street lights, public toilets, parks and policing. In addition, we need to beef up the Council’s resources to tackle the growing number of illegal short-term lets which are turning homes in hotel rooms.”
“We are calling on the Council to start work on making a cross-party case to Government for a change in the law to allow the Council to levy a ‘Tourist Tax’”
“Tourist taxes are commonplace in Europe and the rest of the world and international visitors would not baulk at paying it. Adding a few pounds to the price of a hotel room would not put the hotel and hospitality industry at risk.”
What Westminster residents say
Tourist Tax – Helping to pay for public services
“I am very much in favour of this and for some time have thought that such a tax is appropriate. With the huge swell in tourists in recent years it is bound to have an impact on all aspects of the environment and why should local council tax payers have to pick up the bill for this?”
“A good idea if it generates income that could be used to re-furbish and maybe add extra public toilets over the borough. Extra bins around the West End and more staff for street cleaning etc, could enhance Westminster. Also, if some could be used to set up youth schemes/work experience and grants for after-school clubs/adventure playgrounds could be re-instated, marvellous! If tourist tax was just to be accumulated to be sent to government coffers, not such a good idea.”
“I would want the majority of income fed back into the almost-WCC-decimated community services which contributed to a “vibrant, safe place” and most especially, in order, youth and sports/activity services, Culture and Arts (for all) and perhaps international exchanges, green places, services which are used by everybody in the Borough, including tourists and business visitors alike (and lavatories, drinking-water fountain points). “
Tourist Tax – Cracking down on illegal short lets
“Good idea! Hope it includes Airbnb flats.”
“I am strongly in favour of a tourist tax, to be applied to short lets as well as hotels.
When deregulation of holiday lets was proposed in 2014, many Westminster residents, including myself, argued very forcefully against it, predicting the very situation which we are now facing, of short lets being turned into a large-scale business. I recommend the revenue from this tax be used in Westminster to provide adequate funding for the thorough policing of holiday lets, to eradicate the abuse which is turning residential blocks into apart-hotels.”
“I like your idea of a tourist tax – it might help to stop the increasing rise of Airbnb lettings!”
“I think the tourist tax is a fantastic idea! This would bring in much-needed revenue. Also, I think there needs to be more cracking down on airbnb lets”
Tourist Tax – In line with other countries
“A tourist tax would be very beneficial and completely in step with all other countries I have visited in the last few years.”
“Many places have done this for decades (California have since the 1980s), and I think folk know, if well-presented, why not? It’s reciprocal. Wouldn’t anybody think kindly on an opportunity to give back to a community they enjoy? I’d want a scheme to be very simple, low-admin.”
“Great idea. I have a couple of Gites in the countryside in France and pay €0.50 – €1.50 per night for people staying there. I believe that under an agreement with big City councils (Paris, etc) Airbnb automatically deducts the local Tax de Sejour. Press for this – it’s a no-brainer”
Tourist Tax – an idea whose time has come
The latest poll
Almost half of holidaymakers think the Government should introduce a tourism tax on overseas visitors. A poll of more than 1,000 UK holidaymakers to mark the start of trade show World Travel Market in London found that 45% believe the UK should respond with its own tax. Overseas visitors spent 285 million nights in the UK last year, according to Office for National Statistics data. This suggests a £2 per night levy could raise £570 million per year, which could be invested in improving infrastructure and services.
A city-wide consultation has just started in Edinburgh regarding the proposed levy, which would introduce a charge of either 2% or £2 per room per night to all guests in all forms of accommodation. The “transient visitor levy” could raise up to £11 million a year in Edinburgh, its supporters say, with that money to be spent on growing tourism and managing its impact, and businesses, investors, visitors and residents are all being encouraged to have their say.
Research suggests this could bring between £11 million and £13 million annually to the city, funds the council proposes using to pay for the impact of booming tourist numbers on public services such as street cleaning. Around 1.6 million overseas visitors visit Edinburgh a year, more than any other UK city outside London, 2014-2016 figures from Visit Britain indicate.
Scotland’s largest local authority is to investigate proposals for a tourism tax which supporters say could generate a minimum of £4 million a year. Glasgow City Council is setting up a cross-party working group to examine how a “Transient Visitors’ Levy” could be implemented, gather the views of residents and businesses and consider how the money could be spent. It is due to hold its first meeting later this year.
Lisbon council has said it will be doubling its tourist tax from the start of next year. As of January 1, 2019, visitors to Lisbon will pay €2 per night on top of hotel and accommodation fees, up to a maximum of seven consecutive nights. Lisbon’s tourist tax was implemented in 2016, and next year’s boost will be put towards urban cleaning and better transport in the most tourist-heavy areas.