I write in support of the proposal to introduce a voluntary tourist levy. Having talked about this with Fishergate residents I can confirm it is proving a popular idea.

We all know that tourism has benefits to York, however accommodating more than six million visitors every year is not without environmental and social impacts.

Aside from the oft-reported anti-social behaviour from a minority, visitors also use our bins, footpaths, roads, parks and city squares - all maintained through our council tax payments.

Given York’s attractive offer it is highly unlikely that visitors will stop coming to York because of a voluntary £1 addition to their bill. Rather it is more likely that they will be happy to pay a nominal fee as is standard practice in many cities around the world where tourist surcharges are mandatory.

The vast numbers of hotel stays would ensure that even with only a 60 per cent take-up the levy would annually add around £1 million to the city’s coffers which could then be used to improve the city centre for residents and tourists alike.

This will leave the pittance given to the council by central government to be better spread around key local services such as adult and children’s social care.

Dan Kettlewell,

Labour candidate for Fishergate Ward,

Temple Avenue, York

York’s popularity comes with a cost

I AM pleased that Labour on City of York Council have suggested a tourist tax and that both the Liberals and the Greens have declared their support for some kind of tax (£1 a night tourist levy plan for city, The Press, January 22).

I am proud that York was recently voted Britain’s ‘favourite’ city. But this popularity has brought with it burgeoning visitor numbers, last year amounting to almost seven million.

Though the visitors produce benefits – the city’s hospitality industry employs some 19,000 people – tourism involves considerable cost to the city’s council tax payers who must fund additional council services such as street cleaning, public toilets, night-time policing etc.

A modest tourist ‘bed’ tax of say £1 per night (as is widely levied throughout Europe) could contribute to the costs of the infrastructure the tourist uses and help protect the environment they enjoy.

It would permit the city council’s contribution to VisitYork to be reduced and the tax could also be used to pay for projects such as the repair and maintenance of the city walls - in City of York Council’s budget last year £1.6 million was allocated to this.

I realise that at present the Government does not permit such a charge to be levied by the local authority but I hope the city council will discuss this issue again and obtain cross-party support for an approach to the Government that seeks to remove this restriction.

John Craven,

Main Street,

Nether Poppleton, York