Sadiq Khan’s recycled idea

By | Category: Travel rumblings
the front of Buckingham Palace

Will tourists stay in London if hotel rates rise due to a tourist levy?

Four years ago, the Mayor of London – Sadiq Khan – wrote a story in the then Evening Standard suggesting that London should introduce   a tourism levy. Then, he was just an MP and shadow minister for London.

Now with much more power he has resurrected the idea. Leaving aside whether he has the power to do it  – when Edinburgh tried a similar idea it found it didn’t have the powers to introduce such a tax and the Scottish government refused to pass those powers across – is it a good idea?

Lots of American cities impose accommodation taxes; Italian cities such as Rome and Venice do it so why not London?

There are a couple or reasons he might want to re-think his idea. The first is that, as we reported last week, hotel rates dropped by over 10% last year suggesting that hoteliers had to discount prices in order to attract guests. A tourism levy might put off visitors staying in London and damage tourism. The second reason comes from the accountancy and consultancy practice, RSM, which suggests that since we charge a much higher rate of VAT than other countries – 20% compared to Ireland’s tourist VAT rate of 9% –  London could be shooting itself in the foot. A third reason is that in this post Brexit vote world, should anything be introduced that might deter visitors?

Nonetheless what politician has ever considered that? Usually they just want to find other sources of revenue to boost the coffers or to allow pet projects to go ahead.

I may be maligning Sadiq Khan but is this the time to consider hitting visitors to London? And if London were to be given these powers would not other tourist-attracting cities not want to follow?

The people that pay these levies are us, the holidaymaker and traveller. I rarely stay in a central London hotel because of prices and I think I am fairly typical of holidaymakers. I want value for money. I don’t get it in London at the moment and I certainly won’t get it if he succeeds in his tourism levy.

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