Westminster Labour Councillors have called on the Leader of Westminster Council to join them in a cross-party campaign for a hotel occupancy levy to improve local services for residents and tourists alike. In a letter to Councillor Nickie Aiken, Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg says:
Dear Councillor Aiken
Over recent months the idea of a hotel occupancy levy has been discussed at the Council meeting and at other fora. There appears to be a cross-party consensus that this is a good way of generating extra finance to pay for essential public services enjoyed by both tourists and residents alike – public toilets, better street lighting, improved public realm and security – as well more support for culture and the arts.
I am writing to urge you to begin lobbying for this with your colleagues in Parliament and further afield. We understand the concerns of the hospitality industry that the current uncertainties around Brexit make the timing very important. However, given that it will take time for the case to be made, for Government to be persuaded and for legislation to be enacted, there is no time to waste.
All the preparatory work needs to start now so that the levy can be introduced in the future, when the Brexit uncertainties are, hopefully, behind us. Council officers have already undertaken initial work and estimate that a hotel levy would generate an additional £25 million a year. It is essential that the Council speeds up its existing investigations on this and that local government takes the lead in proposing such a measure to ensure that it receives the proceeds
As you will know, a hotel levy is common-place across the world. Throughout North America, the use of a hotel occupancy levy has been a standard best practice for more than 50 years. This levy has rarely received any objection from either leisure or business tourists as it represents a small portion of the overall cost of their visit.
Barcelona, Budapest, Hamburg and Milan have all had different versions of a hotel levy since 2012 and all are working well. Since then places as diverse as Berlin, Turin, Dubai, Palma Majorca, Abu Dhabi and Vilnius, have implemented different variations of a nightly fee for visitors.
A tourist tax can take many forms. It could be a nightly fee per head or per room, it could be as high as seven euros per person per night (as in Rome) or a charge per room (Dubai) or a charge based on a percentage of the cost of the room (Amsterdam, Berlin or Budapest).
This is an idea whose time has come. Politicians from all sides support the idea. Westminster City Council should lead the way in London.
We would be very happy to work with you and your colleagues on this so we can generate these extra vital resources for Westminster.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour Environment and City Management spokesperson