St Ives in Cornwall considering introducing ‘tourist tax’ for visitors

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Tourists could soon be asked to pay a small fee to maintain facilities

One of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations is considering introducing a “tourist tax”.

St Ives in Cornwall is understood to be thinking about implementing a voluntary levy, as a compulsory charge would require a change to the law.

Mayor of St Ives Johnnie Wells is in talks with holiday firms about the potential tax, according to the BBC, in a move to help maintain facilities in the town.

It comes just over a year after the town introduced a charge for visitors to use its public toilets, while the locals can use these facilities for free.

t Ives in Cornwall is understood to be thinking about implementing a voluntary levy for tourists (Photo: Getty Images)t Ives in Cornwall is understood to be thinking about implementing a voluntary levy for tourists (Photo: Getty Images)
t Ives in Cornwall is understood to be thinking about implementing a voluntary levy for tourists (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Mr Wells said the small town has been struggling to maintain facilities for the sheer number of tourists it welcomes each year, which includes 540,000 day trippers and 220,000 overnight visitors, and said such a levy would “bring massive benefit to the town”.

He told the BBC: “We are only 11,500 people, and we only get the money for those people. And yet, during the summer, we’re providing facilities for hundreds of thousands of visitors when every budget we have is being reduced. It makes it very difficult as a council to make ends meet.

“We need to figure out a way of making people feel like they are contributing to St Ives, by paying a bit of extra money towards the town.”

It comes after Manchester became the first city in the UK to introduce a tourist tax for visitors staying overnight. As of 1 April, anyone who stays in a city centre hotel or holiday apartment in Manchester must pay £1 per night, per room under the scheme.

The City Visitor Charge aims to raise £3 million per year and comes ahead of significant expansion of the hotel and holiday let sector in the city. It is expected that almost 6,000 hotel rooms will be added to Manchester in the coming years, which will result in an extra one million overnight stays.

The move follows a referendum that was held among hoteliers last year on whether or not to implement the fee, with four in five voting in favour. It means every “hotel and short stay serviced apartments” in Manchester city centre with a rateable value of £75,00 or more will charge the £1 fee per night fee.

Money raised from the tax will then be used to help fund the new Manchester Accommodation Business Improvement District (ABID), which is designed to “improve the visitor experience” and “support future growth of the visitor economy” over the next five years.

The fee mirrors similar charges introduced in major tourist destinations including Venice, Madrid, Barcelona, the Balearic Islands, Rome and Amsterdam.

The Welsh government also announced it will go ahead with plans to charge a visitor levy for tourists who stay overnight earlier this year. It means that tourists will pay a small fee if they are staying overnight in hotels, Airbnbs or bed and breakfasts, similar to charges already in place in more than 40 destinations across the world.

A survey by the Labour-led Welsh government of more than 1,000 people, including tourist businesses, responded to a public consultation about how the levy should be brought in, with only 13% of respondents saying tourists should not contribute towards the cost of maintaining areas they stay in.

How much visitors could be charged has yet to be decided, but finance minister Rebecca Evans previously said it would be a “small contribution” that would go towards maintaining local amenities such as beaches, pavements, parks, toilets and footpaths.

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