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Bed tax could 'grease the wheels of the visitor economy', says Heappey

MP James Heappey, chair of the APPG for the events industry, has floated the idea of a per room per night tax

Pictured: James Heappey MP

James Heappey, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the events industry, has floated the idea of a ‘bed tax’ to help fund the industry and its promotion.

The MP for Wells, who is the events industry’s champion in Parliament, said he wanted to get people’s views on a per room per night tax to fund the visitor economy.

He said: “Over the years on APPG business, a lot of the places I’m getting to are cities that have benefitted from that sort of funding. It’s not coming out of general taxation. They’ve got guaranteed funding that can only be spent on developing the economy in those places. It means they have the resource to market themselves. If you want to brand a city around an event you have that money at your disposal.

“I want to know what it means; the hotel industry seems quite wary of it. Do you apply it to Airbnb? There are a lot of questions and it’s a conversation for the industry to be having.

"If you’re clear it’s hypothecated and for the purpose of developing the visitor economy, what’s not to like? I’ve seen too much success to dismiss it out of hand.

“We’re always told we need to do this and that to be like certain cities and often those cities have that kind of funding. When you have money at your disposal you can grease the wheels of the visitor economy. When you’re able to make investments you increase occupancy on the back of it."

Business Visits & Events Partnership chair Michael Hirst is not in favour of the proposal. He said: “One argument is how you define a visitor tax and not as a bed tax. They’re already spending to visit overnight. The 80 per cent of day visitors are the real losses.

“It might have an opening if it’s voluntary in destinations that want to do it. I’m looking for a method that will fairly collect for tourism.”

Heappey also said that there was room for improvement in the way the UK brands itself.

He said: “I think there’s a concern over the way that the UK brands itself. We have strong brands in Scotland and London, but we need to find a way – without limiting the success those brands are having – of driving it to the regions as well. It’s a real opportunity for growing the UK market.

“Countries in the G7 seem to be able to do that slightly better, we’ve got room for improvement.”

  • Hugo Ponsonby Smythe of PS Taker Ltd 12/07/2018

    Same story from 1997, 2002, 2006, 2011, 2016 and now 2018!

    And still an outdated view from BVEP chair.

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