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Opposition grows to bed tax plan

[Thursday 13 July 2006]

JUST weeks after Daelnet featured an article by Dales businessman Pascal Watkins warning of a proposed new tax that could spell disaster for the region's traditional B&B's, traders in and around the Yorkshire Dales have given a big thumbs-down to the idea of raising more cash for local government coffers through tourism taxes - including one on beds.

Dales traders oppose bed tax proposals
Photo: The Angel Inn

Sir Michael Lyon - who carried out an independent inquiry to consider the case for changes to local government funding in England - raises the possibility of "tourist-related taxes", particularly "the most frequent" proposal of a local tax on visitor accommodation.

He claims in a report on the findings of his inquiry that such taxes already operate in some other countries including France, Austria, the Netherlands and some US states.

But members of the newly-formed Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate Area Tourism Partnership (ATP) have joined opposition to the move, which they claim will make life harder for traders and visitors alike.

Executive Board chairman Steve Macaré said: "The proposal to impose an additional tax on tourism businesses - which already suffer because the UK is seen as an expensive destination - is one that the Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate ATP vehemently oppose.

...if they have to pay more for their accommodation, they will have less to spend on eating out, shopping, attractions or events

Steve Macaré - Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate Area Tourism Partnership

"The proposal to tax tourism businesses will not just affect this sector. Visitors to the area have a limited amount to spend and, if they have to pay more for their accommodation, they will have less to spend on eating out, shopping, attractions or events. This will impact on their overall experience."

According to latest figures, the Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate area attracted nearly 2.5 million staying visitors and an estimated 11 million day leisure visitors.

Collectively they spent £765 million, supporting the employment of 16,832 people.

The Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate ATP has added its concerns to those raised by the tourism industry nationally through VisitBritain and regionally through the Yorkshire Tourist Board.

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