Regatta week has just ended and as usual it was a great week to be in Beer. On Thursday I was called by Radio Devon to comment on a tourist tax being suggested by the Devon and Cornwall Police Constable Shaun Sawyer. He said that due to the massive increase in visitors in the summer the police are under increased pressure to keep the counties safe. It was also suggested that our local doctors and the NHS in general can’t cope with the increase demand.
My immediate view was that it was unfair to introduce another tax on small tourism businesses who already operate to very tight margins. The cost of doing business is only going one way (up). In addition our small village was super busy last week and there wasn’t a police presence in sight! I also was of the view that it might stop people visiting if they had to pay. After all I thought tourism was good for our country and good for our economy.
Then I heard Bob and Joan who were on just before me. They are off to Wales today to stay in a holiday cottage and they had to pay a £2 green tax. This green tax apparently goes towards the water bill for the property they are staying in. My research shows that Wales were going to introduce a tourism tax however these plans were recently shelved as there was large opposition that it would damage the economy. Tourism is worth around £2.8 billion to the Welsh economy.
Interestingly many European cities have introduced a bed tax. This is where a couple of Euros is added to your hotel bill each night to help support local services. This money could be injected into the emergency services to help pay for the increased presence of visitors.
I’m now conflicted in my view. Bob and Joan were very much in favour of a tourism tax to help the local services in Devon and Cornwall. Their view was that it’s only £2 for the week and given that they are paying for accommodation this is a small price to add on.
What do you think?