Many accommodation operators across the UK are set to introduce £1 or £2-a-night accommodation visitor charges, as ABID (Accommodation Business Improvement District) initiatives, that have already been successfully introduced in Manchester, and are on the cards to hopefully also be introduced in; Chester, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole and many other destinations… in order to raise funds to support the local Visitor Economy.

I believe that ABIDs are a great way to save hospitality, but wonder whether the wrong use of the word ‘tax’ when they are being reported on or talked about, maybe impacting on people’s opinions of them.

Still in their infancy, many people haven’t yet heard of ABIDs, but those who have, seem to have a divided opinion on whether it is a good idea… and the problem seems to lay with the fact that ABIDs are often referred to as a ‘tourist tax fee’ or ‘tourism tax’.

I’d love to take this opportunity to clarify that it’s not a TAX, it is ‘A BID’ to Save Hospitality!

Using the word ‘tax’, is just confusing matters, as this is not a tax from the Government – far from it – it’s a visitor charge/levy and it’s about operators taking matters into their own hands to raise the funds needed.

The payment is something operators from individual destinations have come together to agree to adding onto accommodation stays, so they can raise funds to plough back into their respective cities.

After months of calling on the Government to help the profession, and bring it more in line with European neighbours by lowering VAT, it became apparent they are not coming to save us – so we need to save ourselves.

A visitor charge or tourist levy, is where a small fee – and we’re talking a £1 or £2 each stay – will be added to a hotel bill in order to help generate millions in each city/town annually, with the money not going directly to the Government, but back to a private sector board, which will then ensure this is then invested back into the area, to attract more visitors, tourism events and improve visitor services – in turn, boosting the local economy and also creating more jobs. It’s a win win!

ABID’s have exciting plans behind them, with clear benefits for businesses and residents alike.

Since 1 April 2023, a ABID charge has been happening in Manchester and the city has raised more than £2.8m in the first year,, with a charge of £1 per night, proving hugely successful.

Many other destinations plan to introduce their own ABIDs, and this continued growth is proof that the model works – allowing accommodation providers to take a key role in determining their destinations’ future.

It’s about a unified approach, with the overarching ambition being to unite all businesses in a location behind a shared vision of investment.

ABID’s are the single biggest opportunity the sector has to help towns and cities to reach their potential.