Popular Kent seaside resorts could introduce tourist taxes

View from beach of Margate, Margate, Kent, England
Tourists facing English beach destinations including Margate could face European-style tourist taxes. (Getty)

Tourists flocking to English seaside towns in Kent could face a European-style tourist tax as part of plans to recoup the costs incurred by increased visitors.

Thanet District Council, which has popular locations including Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate under its jurisdiction, enjoys a booming tourist economy worth £212m to the local economy, according to the council, but with that popularity comes various issues and soaring costs.

The council had set up a working party to address the negative impact of large numbers of tourisms, and as part of its review and recommendations, the idea of a tourist tax has been suggested.

The five-member Tourism Review Working Party, which is part of the council's Oversight and Scrutiny Panel, was tasked with investigating "the negative impact of tourism on the district" and identifyig measures to mitigate such impact.

A view of a busy beach in Margate, Kent. Thunderstorms are set to hit parts of the UK amid a record-breaking September heatwave. Picture date: Sunday September 10, 2023. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Margate and other seaside towns in the council's area enjoy a booming tourist economy - that comes with its own issues. (Getty)

Its report, published on the council's website and discussed at a meeting on 16 April, identified the main issues caused by the boom in tourist numbers as public toilets, waste, beaches, traffic and financial management.

It also included a range of recommendations to mitigate those issues, including levying additional council tax on second homes, as well as: "when permitted, levying a modest tourism tax on overnight stays".

Another recommendation was: "ensuring holiday lets contribute to funding the costs they impose - via council tax or business rates."

'Serious issue'

Councillors reportedly backed some of the ideas, with one saying: "we've got to make sure any gains we get from a tax don't wipe out the benefits we get from tourism in the first place".

Conservative district councillor John Davis also welcomed the idea of taxing second homes and Airbnbs, reportedly saying the number of Airbnbs was the reason behind "people being sent a hundred miles away for temporary accommodation and why we can’t cope with the number of people on the housing list".

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Where else has tourist taxes?

According to Authentic Europe, more and more destinations around the world are introducing tourist taxes, including a large number of European countries and cities.

A tourist tax usually consists of a fee that applies per person per night and is usually payable locally when you check out of your accommodation. As in Kent, the aim is to manage over-tourism and improve the tourism sector by recouping costs needed to manage the area.

Rates can vary, and often depend on the type of accommodation, but the amount of the tourist tax is usually decided by the city or the municipality and can change annually.

According to Authentic Europe, places where you may have to pay a tourist tax include:-

  • France - where a tourist tax or 'Taxe de Séjour' is charged per person, per night and varies according to the standard and quality of the accommodation.

  • England - currently Manchester is the first and only British city to charge a £1 tourist tax to visitors staying in the city-centre hotels or rental apartments, though Kent could soon follow.

  • The Netherlands - a tourist tax of €3 per person per night payable locally, with some hotels including it in their rates and some not.

  • Italy - here, the amount of the tourist tax depends on the city. In Rome, you will be charged between €3 - €7 per person, per night. In other cities, the rates vary from €2 to €5.

  • Switzerland - again, the amount varies in different towns & cities but costs around €2.20 per night per person.

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