Tourism and Bed Numbers

A few days ago I blogged about the latest ‘idea’ from certain quarters of Cornwall Council about a Tourist Tax, or Bed Tax. I said this was nothing more that a tourist poll tax and would be hard to administer, and more than likely cost a small fortune to run.
Figures of £25 million in additional revenue have been quoted from within the Council. It does seem a lot of this money could be used for the benefit of the whole of Cornwall. So I decided to do more research on this to see if the numbers stacked up.
Using the latest data base there are currently 225,692 beds in Cornwall and they are split into the following categories and bed numbers.
  •  Agency – 3984
  •  Bed & Breakfast – 4448 
  •  Campus – 839 
  •  Farmhouse -590 
  •  Guest House – 5062 
  •  Holiday Park – 53766 
  •  Hostel – 1185 
  •  Hotel  -17239 
  •  Inn  -1422 
  •  Self Catering – 81535         
  • Camping and Caravanning – 55622
We all know that the occupancy of beds is not year round, and some categories will do better at certain times of the year. I have worked out that the £25 million will come from an average occupancy of 110 days or 30% though-out the year.
The trouble with the whole concept of a tourism tax is how you administer and collect the money. Will the owners of the establishments have to keep a record of each night someone stays in a separate ledger and if requested have to submit these documents to Cornwall Council to be checked? What happens if you don’t pay? What mechanism would be in place to collect the outstanding amount? It will be bad enough trying to collect it, let alone chase up non-payers.
I have said before about the message this sends out to tourists. It is a very bad image for Cornwall if the tax will be seen as another way of fleecing visitors. It is not the right message to send out because holidaying in the UK is not always the cheapest compared with a lot of other European destinations.
Whilst it may be seen as a way to improve the infrastructure of Cornwall without loading it onto the Cornish tax payers but, I truly believe this whole concept is fraught with a lot of problems and issues. Instead of hearing about how much money could be raised, it would have been far better to be told the details and how it would be administered before it all went public.


  • Simon

    Whoever suggested the tourism tax forgot that tourism businesses in Cornwall are already supporting over 40% of the Cornish economy. More importantly we are already taxed so much that it is difficult to make a sufficient profit to live on or justify the ownership of the business.

    All accommodation providers pay business rates. Based on the 2010 business rates revaluation, this is 11% of turnover. Business rates are the tax on business that pays for the infrastructure in the county. We all pay VAT, now at 20%. So we have already paid 30% tax on turnover (tax on turnover, not tax on profit) before we've even tried to pay our ever increasing costs, wages, energy etc. We then get taxed a further 40% on any profit that we do manage to make before we put food on our families table.

    Whoever suggested this ridiculuous additional tax should try working in the private sector instead of living off the tax paying working public with gold-plated pensions, excessive salaries and corporate credit cards. We need to cut costs in local government by removing these people from office, and I don't mean Cllr Wallis who is supportive of the future of tourism in Cornwall. I mean the freeloaders who dream up these schemes solely to esnure that there is enough money in the public sector to keep paying their salaries and justify their non-existant jobs.

  • Anonymous

    Simon,what are you talking about,never has so much rubbish been spouted in one post,lets just look at a few;
    supporting 40% of the cornish economy,details please
    "All accomodation providers pay business rates,"really thats news to me and I suspect a lot of self catering and bed and breakfast providers
    "We all pay vat" nope,wrong again….
    So your whine about 30% tax on turnover is nonsense
    "We then get taxed 40% on any profit that we do manage to make before we put food on our families table" crikey I can hear the violins,but wait a minute,you only pay tax at 40% if you are a higher rate tax payer,sorry to spoil the story…
    Tourism taxes work very well in other countries so lets have a debate without the nonsense youve posted in this thread…

  • Anonymous

    Simon,I understand your position,if you are really finding it hard to "make a sufficient profit to live on" and are worrying about how to put food on the table,thats a really terrible situation to be in
    However I dont think everyone in the holiday industry is in that position,I remember reading last year about a local letting company that was looking for a MD,they were offering if I remember £75,000 and pension etc, I think the owner wanted to step aside but I presume if he could afford that sort of pay then his business must be doing ok, cant remember the name of the business but perhaps you can?

  • Anonymous

    The huge influx of people into the county is profitable to the few and costly in terms of extra pressure on local infrastructure, utilities and resources. It would be appropriate to expect a contribution from visitors to those running costs, rather than always expecting residents to foot the bill.

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