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City of Bath plans tourist levy to support heritage, arts and culture

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Councillors in Bath are looking to cash in on the 5.8 million tourists that visit the historic city each year, with plans to introduce a bed tax that could raise millions of pounds for the British UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The council’s Operation Plan – a £1 nightly surcharge per room – would not affect tourism, but would boost city coffers.

According to the plan, a nightly surcharge on rooms would generate around £2.4m (US$3.3m, €2.7m) a year, which would be reinvested into the local area to help maintain more than 5,000 listed assets and support the public realm, arts and culture.

“Visitors are important to our economy, but they also impact upon council resources and services,” it says. “If a local tourism levy was introduced, it would help.”

Previous attempts by the city to introduce the tax had been rebuffed by the government, but after it emerged that Birmingham might be allowed to impose such a levy to help finance the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Bath councillors decided to revive the plan.

“We believe that considering the numbers of visitors we get in Bath a small fee for overnight stays is the way forward,” said council leader Tim Warren, speaking at a public meeting.

“This would go to service the tourism budget and funds that would have usually been diverted there would be free to be put to use elsewhere.”

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