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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Kim McGuinness proposes innovative £1-per-night tourist tax to support North East tourism development

Tourists visiting the North East could have to pay a £1 tax, under plans from a mayoral candidate to turbocharge the region’s cultural sector.

Kim McGuinness has announced plans to put a £1-a-night levy on hotel stays, after

Manchester became the first UK city to impose such a charge earlier this year.

Ms McGuinness, who is currently the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, is the favourite to become Labour’s candidate for the North East mayoral election next year – having made the final shortlist alongside ex-MEP Paul Brannen last week, following Jamie
Driscoll’s controversial exclusion from the contest.

She said that the proceeds of a tourist tax could be used to fund new events and attractions designed to bring more people to the region, which receives fewer visitors than any other region in England.

Ms McGuinness added: “The people in the North East are incredibly proud of all we have to offer, from arts to music to sport and more. Our cultural heritage defines us. Now it’s time to grow that.

“If we introduce a small tourist levy on hotel stays, like they have in other European regions, we can fund a series of major visitor events that will create jobs and put our region back on the national stage. We only have to look at the positive economic impact of

Sam Fender and Pink concerts in June which brought in more than £15m to the local economy. Our region can benefit from more of that impact.”

According to Visit Britain, there were 478,000 international visits to the North East in 2022 and £311m spent by tourists in the region – the lowest of anywhere in the country.

By comparison, the North West had 2.7 million visitors and a spend of £1.7bn and Yorkshire had 1.1 million visits and £533m spent.

Northumbria police commissioner, Kim McGuinness. Image: Wikipedia

Ms McGuinness said her tourism levy would also be used to give families access to culture, arts and sport through a network of Sure Start-style centres, as part of her pledge to end child poverty.

Such taxes are common in cities around Europe and one is also planned in Edinburgh.
Under current UK rules, the overnight levies can only be applied when agreed on a voluntary basis by hoteliers.

But Ms McGuinness has said that, if elected mayor, she would first introduce a voluntary scheme and then lobby the Government for new devolved powers enabling her and local council leaders to impose the measure across the region.

She added: “I want the North East to be known as the home of real opportunity, where we tackle hardship and the unfair effects of austerity head-on. Arts and culture, sports and music, we’ve seen time and again these areas be a path to success and if we invest in culture and arts we can inspire a new generation.”

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