Manchester will become first UK city to charge a 'tourist tax' this week
Tourists visiting Manchester, England, will have to pay a daily fee as part of a new “visitor charge."
Authorities in Britain’s third-largest city will implement the tax April 1, charging visitors staying in city-center hotels or rental apartments per room for each night of stay.
The hope is that the daily charge of 1 pound (about $1.23) will not deter travelers from visiting the city and instead raise some 3 million pounds ($3.6 million) a year to help build up local infrastructure.
It comes amid a major expansion of Manchester’s hospitality sector, which will see nearly 6,000 hotel rooms added over the coming years. It's one that hoteliers hope will lead to an extra 1 million overnight stays.
It is the first initiative of its kind to be unveiled in the United Kingdom following the success of similar ones in tourist destinations like Venice, Italy; Barcelona; and Rome.
In November, Edinburgh, Scotland, announced plans to charge visitors 2 pounds ($2.46) per night to stay in the historic city in the near future. TPG wrote about the initial proposal pre-pandemic in 2019.
The initiative will help fund the new Manchester Accommodation Business Improvement District, or ABID, which is designed to “improve the visitor experience” and “support future growth of the visitor economy” over the next five years.
Related: Tourism taxes are making international trips more expensive
“I think [the message it sends] has been a consideration; however, when you compare it to European cities that have had taxes and visitor levies in place for a number of years, we feel it’s a small amount comparatively,” ABID chair Annie Brown said, downplaying any effects the cost-of-living crisis might have.
Brown adds that other U.K. cities plan to implement a similar program and doesn't believe the charge is off-putting.
“We will get the attractions and cleaning, and deliver against our business plan. It’s going to be the largest accommodation BID outside of central London in terms of the revenue it generates,” shared Brown.
How much is the tax, and where will I pay it?
The fee is 1 British pound per room for every night you stay.
Visit Manchester says 74 hotels will charge the fee, all of which lie inside the city’s inner ring road.
How will I pay the charge?
Visit Manchester hasn’t said how exactly the charge will be levied. However, if it's anything like similar initiatives in mainland Europe, it will be added to your bill, payable at the end of your stay.
How does the visitor tax compare with other destinations?
Relative to other vacation hot spots in Europe, Manchester’s tax is still relatively cheap. A number of other cities and regions apply “visitor fees” to tourists.
Rome, for example, charges a “tassa di soggiorno” (holiday tax) of between 3 euros ($3.24) and 7 euros ($7.56) per night, depending on the star rating of your hotel. That is payable on the first 10 nights of a stay.
On the other hand, Venice only charges for the first five nights of a stay, at a rate of between 1 euro ($1.08) and 5 euros ($5.40) per night, depending on the hotel star rating.
However, you cannot dodge the tax by staying outside the floating city. Those planning to make day visits must instead pay a tax of between 3 euros ($3.24) and 10 euros ($10.80) per day, depending on how busy the city is.
Spain’s most-visited city, Barcelona, requires tourists to pay different rates depending on which type of accommodation they stay in. The fee is only applied to regulated, official tourist accommodations.
Someone in a regulated tourist rental apartment currently pays 2.25 euros ($2.43) per night to the region and 1.75 euros ($1.89) to the city — a total of 4 euros ($4.32).
Someone in a five-star hotel, however, pays 3.50 euros ($3.78) per night to the region and the same 1.75 euros to the city.
However, that 1.75 euro fee to the city will increase to 2.75 euros ($2.97) on April 1, 2023, then again to 3.25 euros ($3.51) in April 2024.
That means by April 2024, a five-night stay in a five-star hotel in Barcelona will cost 33.75 euros ($36.45) on top of the hotel room rate.
While not yet in force, Hawaii has set in motion new legislation that would require that visitors pay a yearly license of $50 to use any of the state-owned parks, beaches, forests or hiking trails.
Billed as a “green fee,” it would be used to help limit the impact of overcrowding on the island’s most popular outdoor attractions and to support environmental conversation efforts.
Green-fee advocates have told TPG the money would provide a sustained funding pool for community organizations, state agencies and local governments to implement and scale conservation work throughout Hawaii.
“If we don’t take substantial action, not only will the visitor experience be degraded, more importantly, we will have failed to be good caretakers of the Hawai'i we call home,” said Hawaii Gov. Josh Green.