No plans for Toon tourist tax
Edinburgh scheme won’t be copied here ... for now
NEWCASTLE has ruled out mimicking Edinburgh’s attempts to impose a “tourist tax” on visitors to the city.
The Scottish capital is proposing a transient visitor levy (TVL) that could see tourists charged an extra £2 a night or 2% extra on the overall cost of their hotel room – potentially raising an extra £11m a year.
City council bosses in Newcastle, however, say they have no intention of following their Edinburgh counterparts’ lead. Just as Edinburgh’s proposal is dependent on the support of the Scottish government to proceed, leaders in Newcastle would not have the power to impose such a tax on their own.
A council spokesperson said: “The council has no powers to introduce a Transient Visitor Levy, so this is not something we would consider.”
Tourism levies are used in many European countries, but are yet to be implemented in the UK.
Following the success of events such as the Great Exhibition of the North in boosting the number of visitors to Tyneside, some say the extra charges could be an “attractive proposition” at a time when funding is hard to come by.
Sarah Stewart, chief executive at destination management and marketing organisation NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “We’ve been keeping a watching brief on developments regarding tourism tax for a number of years.
“Cities such as Liverpool and Hull have investigated implementing such a tax, while Birmingham is set to introduce a hotel tax to help fund the Commonwealth Games in 2022. Such schemes may be able to generate significant resource to develop their tourism offer and grow visitor economy.
“A tourism tax is thus an attractive proposition because of the ability to generate much-needed resource for the continued growth of the tourism industry.
“However, its introduction would require widespread support from across the sector to be successful. We continue to work closely with local public and private partners to build the tourism industry in the region and last year tourists visiting NewcastleGateshead contributed £1.62bn to the economy, an increase of 3% from 2016.
“This year we have hosted the biggest event in England in 2018, Great Exhibition of the North, and looking forward we have many other major events in the pipeline that, alongside the region’s attractions, experiences and food and drink offering, will continue to bring visitors to the region.”
Hotel bosses in the region say if any kind of extra charges were imposed on their guests, they would want guarantees the extra income would be used to directly boost tourism to the North East.
Bernard Bloodworth, chairman of the North East Hotels Association, said: “This is something that has been on our radar for a number of years.
“There is a mixed bag of views from our members – some people are very much against it but others are more supportive, because they can see that there is very little money about to help drive business and tourism in the region.
“The overwhelming view is that if this was ever to happen, the hotels in question would want some sort of say in how the money is spent.” Council bosses have ruled out imposing a tourism tax on visitors to Newcastle for the time being