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Cambridge considering tourist tax at hotels

Cambridge is considering introducing a tourist tax at its hotels, charging £2 per night.

The city could introduce a local charge on visitors staying in hotels, something that is common in Europe, according to a new report from Cambridge City Council.

It follows on the back of the launch of a similar scheme in Manchester last April.

Under the new proposals, visitors to hotels that have ten or more rooms could be charged £2 per room, per night, rising to £3 from the third year of the scheme.

The money raised from the scheme being considered by councillors could help fund investment into the historic university city.

The Manchester scheme currently charges £1 plus VAT per room, per night.

It is claimed the new proposal could see Cambridge raise between £1.5m and £2.6m per year over the five-year business plan.

The scheme would work by creating an Accommodation Business Improvement District (ABID) which would levy the charge for overnight hotel stays.

The hotels would collect this and pass it on based off of average occupancy rates set by the business plan.

However, the likes of Airbnb and self-catering accommodation wouldn't be hit by the tax.

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Nor would businesses where accommodation is a secondary function - such as pubs.

Some university colleges operate a commercial bed and breakfast offer outside of term times, but cannot be charged according to the report.

But the document said a "voluntary agreement is being explored with the relevant colleges to cover the times of the year when they let rooms on a commercial basis".

Jemma Little, economic development manager at Cambridge City Council, said that initial discussions with hoteliers had been "positive".

She added: "In order for the ABID to be established, there needs to be a ballot of the hotels within that catchment area (of Greater Cambridge). It's not something the council can decide."

The committee voted unanimously to continue exploring the proposals, moving towards a ballot of hoteliers.

If proposals are approved, the new ABID could start as soon as 2025.