Bournemouth Implements ‘Tourist Tax’ Amidst Controversy and Hope for Resort’s Financial Future

Bournemouth has made history as the first seaside resort in the UK to implement a ‘tourist tax,’ with hotel owners voting in favor of the levy.

Visitors staying in the Dorset seaside towns of Bournemouth, Poole, and Christchurch will now be charged an extra £2.40 per person, per night, amounting to £67 for a week’s stay for a family of four.

It has been clarified that providers will collect a £2 per room/unit, per night (plus VAT), from guests staying overnight.  Therefore, a family of 4, sharing a room will be charged £16.80 per week, not £67.

Aims and Expectations of the Levy

The introduction of the tourist tax aims to address funding gaps left by the local council’s reduction in financial support for events such as the annual Bournemouth Air Festival.

Proponents anticipate that the levy, expected to generate £2.6 million annually, will be reinvested in the resort to sustain events and maintain cleanliness.

Implementation and Impact

Starting from July 1, larger hotels across the three towns will apply the additional charge, collected by the BCP Council and allocated to the Bournemouth Christchurch & Poole Accommodation Business Improvement District (ABID) for reinvestment.

The decision has sparked debate, with concerns raised about potential negative effects on tourism and visitor satisfaction.

Supporters’ Perspective: A Boost for Tourism

Advocates of the tourist tax argue that the levy will contribute to the overall improvement of the area, ensuring the sustainability of events and enhancing the resort’s appeal to visitors.

Rosie Radwell, managing director of Marsham Court Hotel and chair of ABID, emphasizes the positive impact of the additional funds on the future of tourism in the region.

Critics’ Concerns: Threats to Tourism and Local Economy

Despite the potential benefits, some locals and visitors fear that the tourist tax may deter tourists and redirect them to alternative destinations.

Criticisms include the perceived burden on holidaymakers’ budgets and the potential adverse effects on the hospitality trade, with implications for local businesses and housing affordability.

National and International Precedents

The introduction of tourist taxes aligns Bournemouth with popular European destinations like Barcelona and Venice, where similar levies are commonplace. Moreover, other UK seaside resorts, including Margate in Kent, are exploring the possibility of implementing tourist taxes to address financial challenges and balance costs associated with tourism.

Navigating Legal Complexities and Future Developments

While the central government in England currently lacks the authority to introduce tourist taxes, councils have sought alternative measures, such as Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), to collect additional revenue from visitors.

As discussions continue and legislative frameworks evolve, the future of tourist taxes in the UK remains subject to ongoing debate and developments.

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