Portsmouth council leader calls for tax on tourists

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PortsmouthImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Spinnaker Tower is one of Portsmouth's best-known landmarks

There should be a tax on tourists in Portsmouth, the leader of its city council has said.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson said a small levy on overnight visitors would help pay for the upkeep of tourist attractions.

A Local Government Association (LGA) survey found 53% of UK residents would support local authorities charging a small fee to support tourism.

The idea has been proposed in several UK cities, including Birmingham, Edinburgh Liverpool, Oxford and Bath.

Mr Vernon-Jackson, who is also chair of the tourism board at the LGA, said it was time for a "national debate" on a tourism levy.

He said: "Tens of millions of overseas visitors come to the UK each year, spending billions of pounds.

"Giving councils the ability to introduce a local tourism levy means they could reinvest some of the tax income generated by this tourism into their local area into the services that are attracting visitors."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The power to impose a tourist tax has also been suggested in Oxford

Many European cities have tourism taxes collected by hotels, with some varying the amount based on the star rating of the accommodation.

In Venice, guests at a four-star hotel are charged 4.50 euros (£3.75) a night, while in Amsterdam visitors are charged a 7% tourist tax plus 3 euros a night.

The LGA acknowledged that tourism taxes could have an impact on visitor numbers and stated it would be "unfair" to levy charges on visitors using traditional accommodation like hotels but not those using Airbnb.

The LGA has asked the government to invite councils to pilot local tourism levies.

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