Cambridge to charge tourist tax?

By | Category: Travel news, Travel rumblings

Oxford and Cambridge are renowned as two of the world’s most famous university towns and consequently crowded with tourists at any time of year. But perhaps – in the case of Cambridge – not for much longer.

Tourists might be deterred from soaking up the history and heritage of Cambridge if Councillor John Hipkin – the city’s former Mayor – gets his way.

Hipkin wants tourists to pay a tax, ignore budget B&Bs, stay in sumptuous accommodation and even pass on punting! That’s not all… According to Hipkin, visitors should buy a pass to gain exclusive entry to historic and cultural sites such as Trinity and King’s College, in a bid to protect Cambridge from overcrowding.

“Some will consider these suggested measures to control tourism draconian and so they may be but, without strong policies to stabilise or reduce tourist numbers, the character of the city and its amenities, especially in the peak season, will continue to deteriorate,” says Hipkin.

Hipkin should be applauded for wanting to preserve Cambridge’s character but in doing so he risks destroying tourism and thereby damaging many businesses. Cambridge v Oxford? It’s the age old dilemma faced by many tourists both within the UK and abroad. If, in these recessionary times, visitors are charged a tourist tax in Cambridge, we reckon many will simply opt to visit Oxford – home to the oldest university in Britain whose high profile past students include William Morris, Oscar Wilde and Lewis Carroll no less – instead.

What do you think? Would a tourist tax put you off visiting Cambridge? Or is it a small price to pay for the pleasure of seeing iconic sights such as the 15th century clock tower featured in Chariots of Fire, the Wren Library and Neville’s Court, where Sir Isaac Newton first calculated the speed of sound?

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