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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

Say no to bed tax campaign

June 6, 2006 12:00 AM

Sir Michael Lyons is currently conducting a wide-ranging review of local government funding. As part of this, he has noted that he is considering a number of taxes targeted towards tourists - the most notable of these being a tax on hotel or similar accommodation, or "bed tax". These are argued for on the grounds that tourists benefit from many local services just as much as residents do - from policing to litter collection to transport - and that their presence also contributes to the cost of providing these services. As such, it would seem reasonable to impose a locally-levied tax on them to contribute to the cost of these services. However, Liberal Democrats are opposing such a move.

Parliamentary challenger, Stephen Lloyd said: "The tourist industry is highly competitive and, in Eastbourne as in the rest of the United Kingdom, extremely price sensitive. Britain already has the second highest rate of taxation on tourists of any European country - tourists contribute around £12 billion to the Treasury each year. And two separate studies have found that for every 1% increase in the cost of visiting Britain, the revenue generated by tourism drops by at least 1%. In addition to hitting visitor numbers, the tax could impose real burdens in terms of paperwork and administration costs, especially for smaller hotels and guest houses.

"It's an extra burden that our local tourist industry cannot take. While bed taxes have been levied in many destinations around the world, these have often not been a success. In New York, a 5% bed tax was introduced in 1990, only to be repealed in 1994 after a sharp decline in visitor numbers; Italy dropped its tax after research revealed it cost more in administration than it collected"

He added: "Tourists contribute a huge amount to our economy in Eastbourne and, consequently, I will be launching a local campaign against any proposals by the government to introduce a bed tax"