Cornwall tourism chief warns visitors could be hit by ‘tourist tax’

Cornwall’s tourism chief has warned that a tax could be levied on tourists in the future.

More than four million people visit Cornwall for a holiday each year, with a further 12 million on day trips.

The huge numbers have opened up a debate on the pressure the numbers are putting on services and the environment in the county.

The chief executive of Visit Cornwall, said he supports a “Cornish tax” to raise money for local businesses from these visits.

He told Cornwall Live: “This is the time to have debates, take your time to take action, engage with people and look at the art of the possible,” he told local media Cornwall Live.

“If tourists want to contribute, if they think it will go to the right cause, I wouldn’t mind.

“The normal argument would be that we need a distribution of money that already goes to Her Majesty’s Treasury to go back to local levels instead,” he said.

“We have 85% repeat business in Cornwall – tourists who return regularly would like the tax to help Cornwall.

“People are cynical and want reassurance that their extra payment is going towards something that is appropriate,” he said. “But what if it’s just another tax on top of VAT and duty? That’s probably not what people want to see.”

Mr Bell says a Cornwall tax should be applied in both the county and neighboring Devon to avoid forcing tourists out of Cornwall.

He added: “There’s no point in Devon not having one and us having one.”

His comments came after Venice became the first city in the world to introduce a tourist tax in an effort to reduce congestion that has put huge pressure on the city’s famous waterways.

Day-trippers will be charged five euros to enter Venice and are encouraged to pay online before arrival.

Simone Venturini, the councilor responsible for tourism and social cohesion, said the scheme would help Venice find “a new balance”.

Meanwhile, Cornwall Council has launched an assessment of the value of tourism in supporting local people with well-paid jobs and community services.

Some of the ideas put forward at a council meeting in January included urging the government to stagger school holidays and introducing a registration scheme for Airbnb-style short-term holiday lets.

Councilor and former school teacher Mike Thomas called for the option of charging tourists to be taken more seriously.

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