The city of Bath wants to become the first place in Britain to introduce a tourist tax, like many other European cities including Paris and Rome.
Plans have been drawn up to charge people staying in hotels an extra £1 per night. The money made would be put back into maintaining the cleanliness of the city, which councillors say is much needed in times of austerity.
The UNESCO world heritage site, which is best known for its Roman baths, Georgian streets and abbey, attracts around six million visitors a year.
Tourism in the city and its surrounding areas supports around 10,000 jobs.
Councillor Charles Gerrish told Sky News: “Fundamentally it (the tax) happens all across Europe and the council has to be creative to meet the shortfall of funding that we currently face… Hopefully it would go to replacing the general revenue of the cleanliness of the city, so we make it look more attractive to visitors.”
This isn’t the first time that Bath has come up with the idea of introducing a levy – it previously had its plans rejected by Westminster last year.
However, there has been a suggestion that Birmingham may be able to tax tourists in order to help fund the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which is being held in the city, and that has encouraged Bath to revisit its idea.
But in Bath many hoteliers believe it will have a detrimental impact, especially as Britain’s VAT rate is already higher than most other countries.
Hotelier Lawrence Beere said: “Why are we targeting just hotels? Hotels only represent 35% to 40% of the bed stock in Bath. There are things like Airbnb. So you have a small group of businesses who already have a lot of pressure, who have to pay a lot of tax.
“I think this form of tax will be anti-competitive to Bath. We are very expensive already. When you look at other cities like York people will think ‘well, I will go and see other cities’. I think this could be seriously detrimental to Bath.”
On the streets of the city there was a mixed reaction to the plans.
Ted Soler, from Oklahoma in the United States, told Sky News: “Frankly it would put me off. This place is too expensive as it is and adding more cost to visit the sites would be a great injustice.”
Last year, film director Ken Loach, who is a local resident, said Bath could lose its UNESCO status if modern developments, aimed at attracting tourists, continued to be built.
The plans for a levy by the local council would need to be approved by Westminster, but if they get the go ahead it would make Bath the first city in the country to tax tourists for a room.
(c) Sky News 2018: Bath revisits plan to introduce tourist tax