Tourism

London’s Camden Council plans £1-a-night hotel tax

London tourists could face £1-a-night ‘bed tax’ as Camden Council proposes alternative ways to bring in funding. 

The council has said that the funds could raise an extra £5m a year to spend on extra street cleaning in popular tourist areas, such as Camden Lock, the market square located on Regent’s canal.

Similar taxes have been adopted in several major European cities, including Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Venice and Florence.

Theo Blackwell, Camden’s cabinet member for finance, defended the plan. He told the Guardian: “We face £70m of government cuts over the next three years. The money would be used to keep our streets clean and maintain and improve the public realm. Currently these budgets face a 20% cut.”

Local authorities do not currently have authority to tax hotel stays without new national legislation or a local voluntary agreement.

Camden Council is expected to launch a campaign in the next few weeks calling for more local spending powers, and is seeking to join with other councils to lobby for the right to impose a tourist levy.

Several other UK councils have sought to introduce a tourist tax in the past, such as Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh without success.

Martin Couchman, deputy CEO of the British Hospitality Association (BHA), said: “Proposals for a tourist tax are nothing new and have always been rejected by government. In London there are 90 million bed nights slept by international visitors, yet only 25 million bed nights slept by UK visitors.

“Any additional tax on top of the existing 20% VAT, which is almost the highest in Europe, would directly discourage international tourists from visiting London.”

The levy was also proposed in York in 2012, but was quickly criticised by York hoteliers and the BHA who argued the tax would deter potential visitors away from the city and into nearby towns.

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