Almost half of UK holidaymakers want tourism tax – survey

Tourists posing for a photograph in Westminster Credit: Hannah McKay/PA

Almost half of holidaymakers think the Government should introduce a tourism tax on overseas visitors, a new survey suggests.

Many countries popular with UK tourists charge fees for visitors, including Spain, Italy, France and the US, and the growth of accommodation website Airbnb has led to concerns about overtourism and spiralling property prices in some destinations.

A poll of more than 1,000 UK holidaymakers to mark the start of trade show World Travel Market in London found that 45% believe the UK should respond with its own tax.

Overseas visitors spent 285 million nights in the UK last year, according to Office for National Statistics data.

This suggests a £2 per night levy could raise £570 million per year, which could be invested in improving infrastructure and services.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently ordered a consultation into allowing councils to set so-called tourist taxes.

Birmingham, Bath and Edinburgh have already considered introducing such a scheme.

But the hospitality and travel industries are lobbying against a levy, arguing that inbound tourists face hefty VAT and Air Passenger Duty charges which are higher than in many competing countries.

Paul Nelson of World Travel Market London said: “It can seem galling for British holidaymakers to have to pay extra for a ‘tourism tax’ when they’re overseas, yet there are no similar levies here in the UK.

“Such a tax could raise hundreds of million of pounds a year which could be invested back into UK infrastructure.”