'Bed tax' nightmare looms for hoteliers

PUBLISHED: 07:32 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 09:30 24 May 2010

TOURISM chiefs are warning that proposals to slap an extra tax on rooms in hotels and guest houses could have a catastrophic effect on Weston's tourist industry. The so-called bed tax could add between five and 10 per cent to the cost of a bed for the nig

TOURISM chiefs are warning that proposals to slap an extra tax on rooms in hotels and guest houses could have a catastrophic effect on Weston's tourist industry.The so-called bed tax could add between five and 10 per cent to the cost of a bed for the night in resorts such as Weston and Burnham.This could see the bill for a double room climb by as much as £11 per person per night in a three star hotel and by £3 in the average guesthouse.Experts from North Somerset Council and hotel owners have slammed the proposed charge saying it would be a major blow to the tourist industry, pushing some businesses over the edge into bankruptcy.Tourism accounts for over 5,000 full-time jobs in Weston and there are fears the tax could see this number slashed if small businesses go to the wall.Weston relies heavily on the almost six million visitors who flooded into the resort last year, injecting over £268m into the local economy.The tax has been proposed by the Lyons Inquiry as part of a Government shake-up into funding councils.North Somerset Council destination manager Julia Stuckey said: "Tourism is one of the largest employers in the town and a bed tax would be a huge blow. Small businesses with only five or six beds would be particularly badly hit as their turnover is not that great."Holidays abroad are already cheap and it is already difficult for places like Weston to compete."A bed tax would make a difficult job even harder and probably have the effect of making more people holiday abroad."President of Weston Hotels and Restaurants Association, John Harrap, said he could see no good coming of the tax and it would push some hoteliers out of business.The association's vice president, Andrew Horler, added: "This is the ultimate stealth tax and the thin end of the wedge. "Many of the smaller places that could close would be ripe to end up as houses in multiple occupation which cannot be of benefit to the town."What's next, a cutlery or glass tax?

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