It’s official, the Manchester £1 tourist tax is now in force. Anyone staying overnight will find this £1 charge added automatically to their bill.

The UK’s third largest city and the birthplace of the industrial revolution, Manchester has become a bit of a tourist hot spot in recent times. Vibrant, energetic, with a history deep in sports, science and culture, an attractive 18th-century canal system and plenty of places to wine and dine, it’s perhaps no wonder that Manchester has attracted 1.15 million visitors annually.

Manchester at night @AndyMullinPhotography

City officials hope to raise £3m a year from the City Visitor Charge. It applies to guests staying the night in a hotel or holiday apartment in the city centre as part of a new scheme.

The money will fund the new Manchester Accommodation Business Improvement District (ABID) to “improve the visitor experience” and “support the future growth of the visitor economy” over the next five years.

Plans are underway to add 6,000 hotel rooms over time to cater for an extra million overnight stays.

Annie Brown, the first chair of ABID, told the Manchester Evening News:

“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.

“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.”

Which UK city will be next to introduce a tourist tax?

No doubt other UK cities will keep a close eye. Edinburgh is already planning to add £2 tourist tax assuming the Scottish Parliament approves it.

Wales has plans in its pending tray but so far no news about how much or how soon.

Other popular cities, Oxford, Bath and Hull looked at the idea but decided against it.

The cities in Europe that already charge a tourist tax

The move to charge a tourist tax already has traction in Europe in Amsterdam, Venice, Rome and Barcelona.

Rome’s tax ranges from €3 to €7 depending on the type of accommodation. The same applies in Venice, and the Venitian city may go further with a daytripper tax “to finance tourism, the maintenance of cultural heritage sites and the environment as well as public services”. This is likely to be hefty starting at €3 but could be as high as €10 per person depending on how busy the city is at the time. 

Amsterdam also has a daytripper tax of €8 per person for passengers on cruise ships visiting the city. Amsterdam has a campaign asking tourists looking for a “messy” weekend to stay away.  Implementing a tourist tax may achieve that goal.

Still, it could be worse, the UK could follow Bhutan. The Himalayan kingdom charges visitors US$200 per person, per night as a “Sustainable Development Fee” to fund free healthcare and education.

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