Westminster Labour has renewed its call for the introduction of a small tourism levy after a Local Government Association (LGA) survey found that more than half of residents think their council should have the power to introduce a tourism levy, with just 31% opposed to the idea.
Labour say introducing a small Tourist Tax on hotel bedroom occupancy could raise over £25 million a year and help to pay for the costs of keeping Westminster attractive and providing the everyday public service which visitors expect to see. A Tourist Tax would help to 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, as well as cracking down on illegal short-lets.
In Westminster, the state of public toilets is appalling with many toilets in the West End and other parts of the city closed or poorly maintained by the private operator. The estimated £2 million a year cost of running Westminster’s public toilets to a high standard could be paid for via a Tourist Tax.
In addition, some of the revenue could also be spent on policing short term lettings to ensure that unauthorised short term letting is stopped. Currently, there are real problems across Westminster with unscrupulous landlords ‘turning homes in to hotel rooms’ because of the increased revenue they can generate.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour’s City Management spokesperson, said:
“This latest LGA survey shows that the majority of residents support a proposed ‘tourism tax’. Tourism is a very important part of Westminster’s economy. But, there are also costs of keeping the city attractive and providing the everyday public service which visitors expect to see. A small Tourist Tax would help to 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.
In addition, the cost of more regular collections of rubbish could be financed by a small Tourist Tax and would transform the street scene across Westminster for everyone. Additional Public Realm improvements could be paid for out of the Tax, as well as anti-pollution and recycling initiatives and cracking down on illegal short lets.”
We urge the Council to write to the new Chancellor of the Exchequer urging him to include this in his forthcoming Budget and allow Westminster and other Councils to introduce a tourism tax”