From tomorrow (1 April) tourists will have to pay a £1 tax to stay in Manchester – the first city in the UK to impose a tourist tax on visitors.
Overnight guests in city centre hotels or holiday apartments will be charged £1 a night, per room, as part of a new scheme which officials hope will raise £3m a year.
Branded the City Visitor Charge, the fee is the first to be introduced in the UK and will help to fund the new Manchester Accommodation Business Improvement District (ABID), which aims to “improve the visitor experience” and “support future growth of the visitor economy” over the next five years.
Nearly 6,000 hotel rooms will be added to Manchester over the coming years, with predictions that it will lead to an extra million overnight stays. Last year, a referendum was held among hoteliers on whether or not to implement the fee, with four in five voting in favour.
Annie Brown, the first chair of ABID, said that despite the cost of living crisis the introduction of the tax was a “smart move”.
“I think [the message it sends] has been a consideration, however, when you compare it with European cities that have had taxes and visitor levies in place for a number of years, we feel it’s a small amount comparatively,” she told the Manchester Evening News.
“There are other cities in the UK looking to put in place what Manchester has done, I don’t think it’s a charge that’s offputting.
“It’s projected to make about £3m annually and that will fund the ABID and we will get the attractions, and cleaning, and deliver against our business plan. It’s going to be the largest accommodation business improvement district outside central London in terms of the revenue it generates.”
Edinburgh is planning to introduce a £2-a-night tourist tax, subject to legislative approval from the Scottish parliament. The Welsh government is also considering introducing a visitor levy, although an exact fee has not yet been set. Oxford, Bath and Hull have considered a similar move in recent years, but opted against it.
Many European cities and destinations charge a tourist tax, including Venice, Rome and Barcelona. In Barcelona, for guests in rental accommodation, the nightly tax is €4 – with €2.25 going to the region and €1.75 to the city. For those who stay in a five-star hotel, the regional tax rises to €3.50. From tomorrow (1 April), the city fee will be raised to €2.75 and then again to €3.25 on 1 April 2024.
Rome’s city tax rate varies from €3 to €7 a night according to the rating of the accommodation. In Venice, where the charge also depends on the star rating of accommodation, there has been a push to introduce a daytripper tax of up to €10 a person, too. This would have come into effect in January this year, but has been postponed due to protests.