Cornwall tourism chief warns visitors could be hit by 'tax on holidaymakers'

Newquay is one of the most popular tourist spots in Cornwall. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Newquay is one of the most popular tourist spots in Cornwall. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Cornwall tourism chief has warned that a tax could be slapped on holidaymakers in the future.

More than four million people visit Cornwall for a holiday every year with an extra 12 million on day trips.

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

Chief executive of Visit Cornwall, has said he support a “Cornish tax” to raise money for local businesses from these visits.

He told Cornwall Live: “It is a time to have the debate, not rush into action, engage with people and look at the art of the possible,” he told local outlet Cornwall Live.

“If holidaymakers want to contribute, if they think it's going to the right cause, I wouldn't mind.

“The normal argument would be we need some distribution of the money that already goes to the majesty's treasury to instead go back into local levels,” he said.

“We have 85 per cent repeat business in Cornwall - holidaymakers who regularly return would want the levy to help Cornwall.

“People are cynical and want reassurance that their extra payment is going towards something that is appropriate,” he said. “But if it is just another levy added onto VAT and taxes? That is probably not what people want to see.”

Mr Bell says a Cornwall tax should be applied to both is county and neighbouring Devon to avoid forcing tourists away from Cornwall.

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

His comments came after Venice became the world’s first city to introduce a charge for tourists in an effort to reduce the crowds which have put huge pressure on the city’s world famous waterways.

Day-trippers will be charged five euros to get into Venice with them being urged to pay online before they arrive.

Simone Venturini, the city councillor 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 locals with well-paid employment and community services.

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

Mike Thomas, a councillor and former school teacher, calling for the option of charging tourists a levy to be taken more seriously.