Calls for a tourist tax on Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch beach

Calls for a tourist tax on Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch beach

August 20, 2022

South Coast locals call for a tourist tax to clean up the beaches littered by day-trippers to Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch

  • Disgruntled residents in Dorset want to introduce a ‘tourist tax’ to charge visitors
  • Local man Maris Lake set up the petition wants to charge visitors in the summer 
  • He said beaches in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch are being ‘trashed’ 
  • Tourism tax is currently used abroad in Spain, France, Greece and Portugal

Fed-up locals on the South Coast want to charge holidaymakers for visiting their popular beaches.

Residents in Dorset want to introduce a ‘tourist tax’ after becoming fed-up with how the beaches in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council area were being ‘trashed’ by careless tourists this summer.

Maris Lake, who lives in the area, has launched a petition on, calling for the council to introduce the tax which would charge anyone entering a set zone within the area.

Under Mr Lake’s plans, only locals or those with family in the area would be exempt from the tax he hopes will be brought in over the summer months.

Holidaymakers flocked to the beaches in Dorset this summer but locals are not happy. They say that tourists are leaving the beaches ‘trashed’ and want to impose a ‘tourist tax’ in the summer months

Mr Lake told the Bournemouth Echo: ‘We know how our beaches end up after the weekend – I think all locals are aware of it.

‘When something is free, people abuse it. If people had to pay, it could shift their mentality.’

Tourism tax is currently used abroad including Spain, France, Greece and Portugal, and it’s not the first time it has been considered being used on the south coast.

Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole councillor Vikki Slade said: ‘We did think about it a few years ago, and if we could work towards it and there was a concern that it might make the Bournemouth and Poole area less attractive compared to its competitors.

‘If it could be properly managed, I think it is something worth considering.

‘It’s really hard to expect the local taxpayer to use lots of its resource on things that are primarily to deal with visitor behaviour.’

Paddle boarders make their way through the rubbish strewn sand at 6am following a very busy day on Bournemouth beach during the July heatwave. Officials in the holiday town have previously been slammed after it emerged that no fines had been issued against the litterbugs in the last year

But not everyone on the council thinks taxing visitors is a good idea.

Councillor Beverley Dunlop said: ‘Keeping our beaches in tip-top condition is an investment at no cost to local taxpayers. All our leisure, culture, events and festivals are paid for by seafront income, which also generates millions of pounds back into the support of other services.

‘Taxing’ visitors would be an extraordinary move for a UK destination, highly impractical, invasive and would actively deter visitors, putting all the benefits they bring to our area at risk.

‘Visitors and local people all have a part to play in respecting our seafront. We welcome everyone who appreciates the beauty and vibrancy of the BCP area. We encourage those visitors to stay in our hotels and enjoy our seafront and towns anytime.’

Petition-creator Mr Lake, however, said that there is ‘no proof’ that a tourism tax would damage the flocks of people heading to the Dorset coastline each summer.

He said: ‘Tourist tax is implemented in a lot of countries in Europe, and it just brings extra funding to the local councils pot.

‘There’s no proof that it actually damages tourism, if anything it improves it because you have extra funds to do things.’

Mr Lake’s petition currently has 162 signatures.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council staff pick up an abandoned tent on Bournemouth beach. Locals are calling for the tourist levy to be introduced to stop littering on the sandy beaches

It said: ‘It can be easily done by a number plate recognition system, and permits could be managed online and granted for family members who are coming to visit or something along those lines.

‘Money raised from this tourism tax could be used for much needed BCP improvements.

‘This would limit tourism – not prevent it completely – but most importantly it would reduce the amount of money spent cleaning the beaches each weekend during seasonal time and would actually enable to re-use the money earned from tourism tax into BCP improvements or at the very least pay for cleaning the beaches – rather than being taken from local’s tax money.’

The petition set up by Dorset resident Maris Lakes currently has 162 signatures. He said: ‘We know how our beaches end up after the weekend – I think all locals are aware of it’

The council had previously been slammed by locals after it was revealed that no fines had been given out to those littering the beach in the last year.  

Earlier this year Wales announced that it was looking into a tourism levy for all overnight visitors to help pay for local services such as keeping beaches clean, maintaining parks and building new footpaths.

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government said in February: ‘Visitor levies are a common feature in tourist destinations internationally. They are an opportunity for visitors to make an investment in local infrastructure and services, which in turn make tourism a success.

‘Without such a levy, local communities face an undue burden to fund local services and provisions on which tourists rely.’

The Welsh tourist tax has not been confirmed and the proposals will begin in Autumn 2022 – it has not yet been decided how much the levy would be.

Hospitality bosses, however, have slammed the idea as ‘crazy’ claiming it would ‘decimate’ the holiday industry in Wales.

Ashford Price, secretary of the Welsh Association of Visitor Attractions, demanded the plans be scrapped amid a ‘growing feeling of anti-English and anti-tourist sentiment’ within the Welsh government.

‘How many of our potential customers will simply vote with their feet and go to Devon, Ireland, or Scotland rather than pay yet another tax at a time when they are trying to cope with a personal cost of living crisis?’ he asked.

William Lees-Jones, who runs the 194-year-old chain JW Lees Brewery, warned any new tax would mean prospective tourists go to Spain rather than Wales.

He told MailOnline: ‘It [the tourist tax] will be a disaster. People will just end up going to Spain instead.’

Others echoed his sentiment. One person told the Daily Post: ‘It’s already more expensive to stay in Wales for a week than it is to have a two week all-inclusive holiday in Spain.

‘A tax would push that cost higher so they are damaging themselves.’

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