Bournemouth suspends plans for tourism levy

Bournemouth’s Accommodation BID (ABID) has suspended plans for a proposed ‘tourism levy’ – news welcomed by the Coach Tourism Association, which had raised the alarm within the industry.

The CTA says that a proposed levy of £2.40 per room per night was due to be introduced on 1 July following the Bournemouth ABID ballot on 14 May. The plans have been suspended following an appeal against the ballot process by a number of local hotels.

The very short notice for the introduction of the levy had been causing significant concerns to coach tour operators who have bookings with Bournemouth hotels for the current season. The appeal against the ballot process will be determined by the incoming Secretary of State following the general election. If the appeal is rejected, Bournemouth ABID has said it will give hoteliers at least six weeks’ notice before it requests them to collect the levy.

The proposed ‘tourism levy’ would only apply to accommodation above a rateable value over £40,000, and would not include those staying at guest houses, B&Bs, and the large number of Airbnb and self-catering properties, as well as day trippers, the CTA says.

Just before Bournemouth ABID made its decision to suspend the levy, a number of hotels within the catchment area had already announced changes to their procedures. This included some who have proposed not to impose the levy for bookings that are already in place, and to phase in the introduction of the levy over the 12 months.

Robert Shaw – ‘Very concerned’

CTA chair Robert Shaw says: “We are pleased that the Bournemouth ‘tourism levy’ has been suspended and we await the outcome of the appeal process with interest. Our operator members had been very concerned about the proposed implementation on 1 July after only a few weeks’ notice, and the additional costs that it would impose on our customers.

“Many operators will have bookings in Bournemouth this year that were contracted long before the levy was even thought of. We note that some hotels have proposed a phased introduction with no additional charges on bookings already in place, and we hope that this sensible approach is adopted by all hotels in the area.

“On a wider front, we remain concerned that the hybrid BID process in Bournemouth means the ‘tourism levy’ would only be imposed on customers staying at larger hotels. This discriminates against some visitors, including the large number who are brought to the resort by coach tour operators. We hope that this pause in the process will allow a reconsideration that results in a much more equitable scheme that means that if tourists are asked to contribute, it would include all visitors.”

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