Comment: tourists are seen as cash cows

Harold Burke, sales director at The UK Holiday Group, says plans for a tourism tax are disgraceful and insulting.

The subject of yet another ‘tourism tax’ keeps rearing its ugly head.

This time it’s the city of Edinburgh that is proposing a ‘room tax’ as another means of generating revenue at the expense of the helpless tourism consumer who is now being viewed as nothing more than a cash cow, ready to be milked even more.

As an industry, we need to make our stance on this loud and clear and put an end to this disgraceful room tax proposal.

If we do not stand together and Edinburgh goes ahead with this, then as sure as night follows day we will have an avalanche of councils around the UK following suit.

A hotel room tax is completely unjustified within our industry and in my personal opinion insulting to me as I am also a tourism consumer.

Just like my clients, I work hard to earn every pound in my pocket and have already paid the government my fair share of income tax before I receive it.

VAT on accommodation

In addition to that, just like everyone else, I am also paying an additional 20% VAT for my accommodation so the thought of a local council telling me they want to take yet more money out of my pocket literally makes my blood boil.

A recent comment in favour of the Edinburgh room tax says “Edinburgh and other cities need the investment to fund important local services given budget cuts from Holyrood” and then refers to hoteliers as “greedy”.

I’m sorry, but as a tourism consumer and defender of my clients’ interests, neither of these points justify any council taking money out of our pockets just because we are an easy target to plug their budget deficiencies.

Local economies

Tourism by its very nature drives local economies such as that in Edinburgh and without it they would have nothing and hotels and local businesses would fail.

As it is, Edinburgh is thriving as a destination, seeing a growth in hotels generating more local taxes for the council in addition to the income they already generate through tourism-related businesses.

Far too often tourists are seen as an easy target with taxes such as Air Passenger Duty (APD). This room tax on tourists is yet another scheme, albeit more localised.

To even suggest this hotel room tax is reprehensible and I hope our trade bodies will join as one to stop this anti-tourism tax now before it is too late.