Reader Letter: Small tourist tax wouldn’t put people off Norwich

St Stephens Street, Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

St Stephens Street, Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

One reader from the Green Party thinks negative reactions to the idea of a small tourist tax are misplaced. What do you think?

I am not surprised at the negative reaction to the suggestion I floated on behalf of the Green Group at the Norwich City Council meeting on July 24, to consider introducing a small tourist levy for overnight stays by visitors.

No-one likes new taxes, but equally no-one likes litter-strewn streets and poorly-maintained facilities. Also, with the impact of online operators like AirBnB, local hotels and guest houses are faced with unfair competition, and a levy of this kind would also be aimed at such operators in order to make them contribute towards the maintenance of such assets from which they benefit.

Many Norwich residents already pay such a small levy when on holiday abroad, probably without realising it: destinations as popular as Ibiza, Berlin, Greece and Switzerland already charge small taxes which are included in hotel charges and which are used to improve services for visitors.

We welcome visitors who come to Norwich to enjoy its fantastic cultural and historic heritage; it is highly unlikely that they would be deterred by such a small levy. Edinburgh looks likely to introduce such an overnight visitor charge in 12 months time, and has found little evidence to suggest that it would deter tourists.

The Green Party is acutely aware of the impact of Conservative government cuts on local authority finances, and indeed we believe that the entire structure of local government finance should be reorganised to enable local democracy to flourish once again. The antiquated and unjust council tax system needs to go, and should be replaced by one which removes the burden from those least able to pay.

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