NOVEMBER 2011: The Evening Standard front page carried the headline "Tax on sleep in West End hotels". In order help plug a £24m budget black hole, Westminster Council is reported to be considering adding a 5% bed tax to hotel bills. The rationale for this was that "tourism should contribute to the cost of keeping Westminster clean", coupled an assertion that the funds could also be used to "promote tourism in the area"; a now standard mantra in such instances. After discovering the story had made the news, in rebuttal a spokesman for Westminster Council stated there were no foreseeable plans to introduce a bed tax. Read the full article here.
OCTOBER 2011: In the Scottish capital, news of a possible tourist tax first surfaced at the beginning of 2011 and has since become a political football. With council elections due in 2012 both the incumbent coalition and opposition have claimed the other side is planning to impose a visitor tax on tourists. At this time it would appear the only difference in the two policies is one party would extend it to all parts of the hospitality industry, whilst the other would restrict it to hotels, leading to the inescapable conclusion that if left to the devices of local government, a tourist tax of some description is on the horizon. Story reported by Michael Blackley in the Edinburgh News (03 November 2011). Read the full article here.
JUNE 2011: It was reported that Cornwall Council had discussed the idea of levying a tourist tax on visitors with a £1-a-night levy under consideration. It is estimated this would generate an income of ca. £26m a year and the windfall would ostensibly be used to "improve the tourism experience" during the summer population influx. At the time the Council did confirm that the idea is one of many being discussed but was not an adopted policy. To date there have been no further developments.
Air Passenger Duty (APD)
NOVEMBER 2011: Passengers departing the UK have been charged APD since 1994. The duty ranges from £24 to £170 for the standard rate and from £12 to £85 for the reduced rate, depending on how far you travel and in what class of seat. In April 2012 this will be increased by almost 10%, double the rate of inflation and a cocking a snook at the newly launched "Axe The Tax" campaign by four ailrlin chiefs. Of some mollification is that APD in Northern Ireland was slashed on long haul routes after Continental Airlines was reported to be considering scrapping the Belfast to New York route. Read the full article here.
Full details on APD can be found on the HMRC website.