Hoteliers fighting back against UK’s first tourist tax in three iconic seaside towns

More than 40 hoteliers in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are rallying against the tax  (Getty Images)
More than 40 hoteliers in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are rallying against the tax (Getty Images)

A group of hoteliers in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are appealing against a tourist tax due to be introduced in the area next week.

The £2 per night levy for overnight stays in Dorset is set to roll out on 1 July as part of plans by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s Accommodation Business Improvement District (ABID).

If introduced, it would be the first seaside tourist tax to be charged in the UK.

Appealing to the Secretary of State against the new charge are 42 hotels that do not support the levy – 56 per cent of the hotels involved in the vote.

The group claim that the nightly visitor charge “financially penalises” the 75 hotels in the seaside resort area, and says only 16 hoteliers voted in favour of the tourist tax introduction.

With the tax set to start next week, hoteliers face charging guests while the appeal process is ongoing.

Levy payments collected in the meantime would not automatically be refunded – a “morally and legally incorrect” move, according to the group.

Officials estimate that the tax will generate £12m for the county in southern England in the next five years.

Appealing hoteliers met with the BCP Council last week to ask to delay the 1 July start date until after the appeal process has been completed.

The appeal group are asking for the ABID team to “see sense, revisit their plans and delay the introduction of the levy whilst our appeal is heard”.

A spokesperson for the group leading the appeal said: “Following the announcement on 14 May that the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Accommodation BID had successfully passed by a single vote, it quickly became clear that a significant number of hotels had not been able to vote and some of these were not even aware that the ballot was taking place.

“If any one of these hotels had they been able to vote, the levy simply wouldn’t have been voted in.”

Graham Farrant, chief executive for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) council, said: “We are confident the ballot process has been carried out fairly and in line with legal regulations.

“We advised those who are looking to appeal the result to follow the process as outlined in The Business Improvement Districts (England) Regulations 2004.”

The Independent has contacted ABID for comment.