Also in the news over Christmas and New Year period increase council tax for holiday homes and a potential “hotel bed tax”:
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have supported proposals to consider significantly increase Council Tax on second homes (as opposed to holiday homes) of anything up to 500%. The controversial proposals are still in development and may not get the various levels of Government approval they will require to be enacted. The next stage in the process of consideration is due to take place later this year.
Nevertheless, the initial reports and proposals have already prompted renewed discussion, both in and outside of the Yorkshire Dales. These have centred on: the property market, second and holiday homes, affordable housing and, in particular, the roles of the latter in maintaining viable local communities; and especially the retention and ongoing renewal of younger families, within many of our more appealing and therefore more visitor orientated rural areas.
The problems of sustaining viable communities in popular tourist areas (rural and indeed urban), as we know, are rather more complex than simply the relative cost of housing or the popularity of second, often vacant, homes. Among other major issues looming high are the availability of good quality, regular employment and the state of the local economy. In many rural areas tourism and the visitor economy are inextricably linked to both:
Birmingham won the right to host 2022 Commonwealth Games with 75% of the c£750 m infrastructure and other costs to be funded by Central Government, leaving 25% or an estimated c£180 m to be found locally. There is much speculation that a proposed £1 or £2 per night hotel room tax may have played a role somewhere in the negotiations and/or will now go on to play a significant part in helping contribute to finding that money before, during and, presumably, after the games. The published details, if indeed it is a serious proposal, are still scant.
Followers of the various proposals across the UK to raise additional funding from tourism and the visitor economy to help service it, will know that Birmingham was a leading light in the so far failed attempts to get major city-wide, hotel focused Tourism Business Improvement Districts (TBIDs) approved in the UK. They have subsequently dabbled with suggestions (also failed) for a voluntary hotel based bed night levy, both the TBIDs and levy being aimed principally to help fund the maintenance of the City’s major business convention and exhibition trade.
If the Common Wealth Games results in some form of voluntary or mandatory levy it would be a very interesting development indeed for many other destinations, including most major Cities but also for any other significant destination of whatever type. For this reason alone, it seems likely that, regardless of any local agreement reached or to be negotiated in Birmingham, there is still likely to be considerable coordinated opposition to proposals for a “hotel tax” from those with an eye on the potential follow-on consequences. Certainly, to date it is our understanding that it is the potentially wider UK implications of accepting the first new “tourism tax” that has led to stanch opposition to previous levy proposals in London, Bristol Edinburgh and Birmingham from major hotel groups and others.
Birmingham and the development of a hotel tax in support of the delivery of the Common Wealth Games has the potential to be the key strategic destination management issue during the next 4 to 5 years: