A Poll Tax on Tourist

The latest announcement from Cornwall Council is to look in the possibility of a Tourist Tax. It is claimed that no final decision has been made, but from my experience you are hardly going to go public about it, unless it’s been pretty well discussed and decided this is the way forward.
My understanding is this Tax could be raised by means of a premium added to the accommodation costs that the tourist pays. Its been said this could be £1 per bed per night. This on face value might not seem a huge price to pay, but if you take for example a family of 4 will generally require 3 beds and they are staying for a week. It does not take much of a maths boffin to workout this is an additional £21 a family has to find for their stay.

This process of taxing a bed may work for Guest Houses, Hotels and Bed and Breakfast establishments, but what about the Holiday Lets? A Holiday Let House may have six bedrooms, but only four people stay. Are you going to charge per house, or the number of beds in use? The other problem is not all Holidays Lets are marked down as businesses. Many are used by the owners, but supplement their incomes by renting it out for a month or two.
The administration of this whole process would be complex and labour intensive. I believe a lot of the money collected would be spent on running the system, and so most of the money would be gone before it could be spent on the infrastructure.
Tourism is a very competitive market locally, nationally and internationally all fighting for the little money that is around. The message this sends out to tourist could have a negative impact; because other areas like Devon would surely make the claim that don’t go to Cornwall because they tax you to visit, but we in Devon don’t. The tourism industry struggles at the best of times, adding this tax could really do a lot of damage.
It would be far simpler if the Government allowed Cornwall Council to keep all the Business Rates it collects for them. That way, the money collected from these rates could be used for infrastructure and improvement.
My opinion is this idea of a Tourist Tax is nothing more than a Poll Tax on tourist. If introduced would be very damaging to the reputation of Cornwall’s tourism industry.
Yet again there has been no backbench involvement on this issue. My real fear is that we won’t get any involvement either. The Cabinet and the Directors can sit on the 4th floor and think up these ideas, but please before you go live on radio and talk about them, include the backbenchers in the discussion first.


  • Anonymous

    The latest in a long line of terrible ideas by people from up country who are clueless about Cornwall and care even less.

  • Simon

    This sounds like another idea that will require an outside consultant on £££'s per day and will cost the council more than the tourism tax will make. Then, and don't even get me started on this, there's the complex system that will be put in place to collect it that won't work properly but still cost millions to maintain.

  • Anonymous

    As I work in manufacturing, I gain no benefit from tourism in my Duchy. In fact tourism is to my detriment, as I am forced to pay through taxes to promote it and support the industry for others to financially gain. Therefore I am in favour of a tourist tax that would create revenue, and hopefully would be spent on promoting industries that are not only for 3 months of the year, and pay more than minimum wage.

  • Anonymous

    2nd anonymous – what do you mean you get no benefit from tourism. I also dont work in tourism, but it keeps members of my family and a goodly number of friends in shoes. it also gives me somewhere to eat out of season in places that could not afford a few restaurants year round otherwise. It gives me decent road and air link so when I do need to go up country the journey is generally not painful.

    Tourisist spend a vast amount of meny in the county and while a lot of that goes in the governemnt coffers, by far the greater amount is recycled and possibly spent on things that you might even manufacture or that are manufactured by your friends and family.

    You may not work in tourism directly but to say you gain no benefit is a very blinkered. Tourism is an integral part of our counties wealth and to tax it is madness.

    I am sure Andrew can tell you what tourism does for the county at a monetary level…

  • Anonymous

    3rd Anonymous:

    As you clearly state, you/your family have a vested interest in tourism. I would not mined paying for the industry if I received any worthwhile benefit from it. I feel the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages.

    Tourism accounts for only 25% of our economy, yet we are told on a daily bases that it is the Holy Grail.

    To quote the late David Penhaligon; "You need more in an economy than just tourism, ice cream and deckchairs."


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