Manchester has beaten Edinburgh to become the first UK city to launch a "tourist tax" for visitors.

The city visitor charge will mean people face an extra £1 per room per night for their accommodation cost.

The money will be used to help to run large events, conferences, festivals, marketing campaigns and for street cleanliness.

Manchester City Council chief executive Joanne Roney said the "innovative initiative" would raise £3million a year to enhance visitors' experience.

It would create "new events and activities for them to enjoy", she said, adding that the money would be "invested directly into these activities, supporting Manchester's accommodation sector to protect and create jobs and benefiting the city's economy as a whole".

The charge comes after accommodation providers voted to set up the Manchester Accommodation Business Improvement District (ABID).

Levy scheme

Some 73 hotels and serviced apartments signed up to the levy scheme which has been introduced ahead of a planned expansion of the hotel and holiday-let sector in the city.

Annie Brown, from Manchester ABID, told the BBC that the move would help create "a more sustainable and thriving sector, helping to bring visitors from around the world to experience the best of what Manchester and Salford have to offer".

She said the accommodation sector in and around Manchester was "growing rapidly, with almost 6,000 new bedrooms to be created over the next few years".

But UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls warned that it was "essential" funds are ring-fenced for spending within the sector and not funding matters covered by general taxation.

She said hospitality businesses already paid a high level of tax - funding vital public services and tourism.

Ms Nicholls added that, while accommodation business improvement districts "can have a role to fund local marketing and promotional activities", there must be comprehensive local support and significant engagement with the business community before it is implemented.

"UK Hospitality has been consistent that levies that are punitive, deter visitors or are incorrectly targeted are ineffective and should be avoided at all costs," said the CEO.

Scottish legislation

The Scottish Government is shortly expected to introduce legislation granting local authorities the power to tax tourists.

Edinburgh City Council has been campaigning for the powers to introduce a levy on tourists since 2018.

It has approved plans for each person to be taxed £2 for every night they are staying in the capital, capped at seven nights.

A public poll in Edinburgh in 2018 found 85% of respondents supported the levy, including just over half of accommodation providers surveyed.

The then First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last September that she would press ahead with plans to give councils the power to apply the tax on overnight stays.

She said this could help councils “fund activities related to tourism and related infrastructure”.

Not in favour

But Aberdeenshire Council leader Mark Findlater said at that time: “The last time we talked as an administration about tourist tax, it wasn’t something we were in favour of - especially just now with the state of our tourist industry who have been hit left, right and centre by taxes anyway.

“There are a lot of businesses going to the wall and this is the last thing you want to do to our very valuable tourist industry in the north-east.”

Asked about the proposals, Aberdeen City Council co-leader Alex Nicoll said his administration was “open to considering a transient visitor levy” but nothing had been discussed.

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