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Editor’s Viewpoint – Will The Bed Tourism Tax Rear Its Head Again?

Peter Adams, Editor of CLH News

Peter Adams, Editor of CLH News

I just come back from a holiday abroad, and was rather dismayed too have found myself paying a tax I had absolutely no idea existed, and unfortunately came into effect the day I arrived!

Apparently in March of this year, the Balearic Isles introduced an “up to” two Euro per day “sustainable tourist tax”. This of course added a further amount to our holiday – we could certainly have dined out for the same cost – and comes 12 years after the Balearic Isles scrapped a similar tax because it “deterred holidaymakers”.

So what’s changed? I suspect the terrorist events which took place in Egypt and Tunisia last year, the unrest in Turkey has made destinations such as the Balearic Isles a very popular destination.

I read that, according to ABTA, the tax will have “unintended consequences” – that being it will drive tourists away from the islands. Well, here’s one!

I am frankly appalled – to scrap the tax because holiday makers switched to lower cost destinations only to reintroduce it following horrendous terrorist attacks beggars belief.

This is nothing new to the UK – various councils up and down the country have been calling to introduce a tourist bedroom tax on hotels. Camden Council last year looked at adopting a charge to raise £5m a year, which it said would spend on extra street cleaning in popular tourist areas, including Camden Lock.

At the time the council said it “has been forced to consider a tourist levy because government cuts had left its finances badly depleted and it had to think creatively about other ways to raise cash for vital services.”

Which makes me even angrier, that which is taken away by one hand is grabbed by the other by introducing a tax.

All indications following the Brexit vote are that tourism will benefit, in particular, due to the fall in exchange rates. Since the Brexit decision, overseas travel sites have reported a significant jump in enquiries for UK holidays. Kayak noted a 54% increase in US searches for fares to Britain, Travelzoo reported a 35% rise and young people’s travel booking site StudentUniverse reported that flights had doubled from a year ago. Meanwhile Ctrip.com International reported that Chinese searches for UK holidays had “skyrocketed” since the vote, while British Airways owners IAG SA has stated that it is expecting the weaker pound to boost tourist flows to the UK.

What a pity that all could be ruined should the possibility of a tourist tax raise its ugly head here once again!

If it does I very much hope it will be treated with the contempt it deserves. Our high level of VAT, compared to our European counterparts with respect to tourism justifies the argument that the government already makes enough out of the tourist and hospitality industry!

Peter Adams, Editor of CLH News

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