A TOURIST tax would target tourist coaches not hotels if one was introduced in Oxford, according to a leading councillor.

Mary Clarkson, the city council’s board member for culture and city centre, said council leaders were monitoring the issue carefully after Edinburgh councillors backed a levy.

This month they voted in favour of a tourist tax, which could become the first of its kind in the UK if the Scottish Parliament passes legislation to allow it to go ahead.

Edinburgh’s 'transient visitor levy proposals' include a £2-per-night charge added to the price of any room for the first week of a stay.

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Mrs Clarkson, Labour councillor for Marston, said tourism managers, including those at Experience Oxfordshire, wanted to boost the amount of time tourists stayed in Oxfordshire.

The Oxford Times:

She added: “In Edinburgh tourists, on average, stay several nights but it’s much less than that in Oxford - some tourists only stay for about an hour and a half.

“We want to encourage tourists to stay longer in Oxford so we wouldn’t be in favour of levy any kind of overnight tax, or tax on hotels - I think a tax on tourist coaches would be a much better idea.”

In 2017 Mrs Clarkson said Oxford had descended into ‘tourist hell’ during the summer, and urged tour operators should spare a thought for city residents.

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Just before she took a trip up to Edinburgh she took to Twitter to say she was looking forward to a ‘brief respite from the tourist hell of our own small city of Oxford’, adding that the city was ‘pretty much impossible between June-October’ with cycle lanes all full of illegally parked tourist coaches and pavements blocked'.

The Oxford Times:

The city councillor called for more parking enforcement for tourist coaches in St Giles at weekends.

She added: “The Government is not in favour of allowing a tourist tax at the moment so we will have to see what happens in Edinburgh.

“You could ask each tourist coach to pay about £50 - £1 per person - and the money could be spent on improving facilities in the city for tourists including cleaning and toilets.”

Mrs Clarkson added if tourists could be persuaded to stay overnight they would be more likely to use the park-and-rides. Jeremy Mogford, who owns the Old Bank Hotel, said any tax directed at people who stayed overnight would be unfair. The tourism trade in Oxfordshire is worth £2bn a year.