Bath UNESCO world heritage city
Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage City that receives nearly 6 million tourists each year. With plans to introduce a tourist tax similar to Paris, Rome, and other major European destinations, it will surely see a boost of tax revenue.
How that will affect the number of visiting tourists remains to be seen. What is certain is that, if the plan pushes through, Bath will be the first British city in the UK to add a tourist tax in its list of UK tax rules.
This will add an extra £1 per night on the accommodation costs that the guests are paying and will generate £2.4 million.
What brought about the tourist tax scheme?
The scheme is nothing new in Bath since it is the second time that the plan has been put forward. The first time it was proposed, however, city leaders were prohibited by Westminster to charge the fee last year.
Some hotel owners also complained that a small additional charge would have a huge impact on their business. It will also be difficult and expensive to collect the cash.
But following the green light that was given to the city of Birmingham to charge their own tourist tax, the Bath council has decided to revive the plan along with North East Somerset. They believe that a tourist tax will not have a detrimental effect on the city’s tourism landscape.
If given the nod, Bath will be the first city in the UK to introduce the tax scheme.
According to the council’s Operational Plan, the introduction of a local tourism levy will be of great help to the city.
‘Visitors are important to our economy, but they also impact upon council resources and services with around 5.8 million visitors every year.’
The £2.4 million that will be generated from the accommodation costs will be reinvested back to the community and used to ‘help maintain over 5,000 listed assets and support the public realm, arts and culture.’
During a budget briefing, the proposal was discussed. It received cross-party support and some criticisms.
Council leader Tim Warren (Conservative) believes that the tourist tax is the way forward and will service the tourism budget.
“With the tourism budget effectively looking after itself, funds that would have usually been diverted there would be free to be put to use elsewhere.”
Councillor Robin Moss (Labour) welcomed the idea, saying it is a good thing.
“I don’t think it would affect tourism but bring in much needed revenue. If you’re using it to improve visitor experience in Bath then that’s a good thing.”
Councillor Dine Romero (Lib Dem) agrees but worries about the impact on lower-cost establishments, such as bed and breakfast.
“A pound here and there does make a difference in that market to whether people choose to stay there,” she said.
The levy will be applied to a range of accommodation, from hotels to Airbnb private apartments.
Some of the European countries that impose similar tax schemes are Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, and Ukraine.