Should overseas visitors pay a hotel tax to support local culture?

V&A director Tristam Hunt suggests such a tax could help maintain free entry
Profile image for Geraldine Kendall Adams
Geraldine Kendall Adams
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The Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) director Tristram Hunt has suggested that cities in the UK should introduce a hotel tax to support local culture and keep museums and galleries free to enter.
Speaking at the Festival of Ideas in London, Hunt said he was “very much in favour” of levying a charge on overseas hotel visitors, which he said could then be used to help support local museums, according to a report in the Telegraph.
Hunt pointed out that other major cities charge both a tourist tax and admission charges to their museums and galleries.
“Why, when I go to New York or Florence or Rome do I pay a hotel tax to support culture in that city, and yet all the tourists who come specifically to London to enjoy culture don’t pay a hotel tax?” he said.
“So I think government should give local authorities in London, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Bristol, wherever, the right to levy a hotel tax.
“The challenge for us would be to say that needs to come to museums like ourselves: it’ll probably end up going somewhere else.”
Hunt said he had revised his views on free entry, which he called for scrapping in a newspaper column in 2011 when he was the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central.
He told the festival: “The reason I wrote that was the state of regional, particularly local authority, museums who were subject to council funding.
“We [the V&A] have had it bad, but local authority museums have been absolutely smashed over the last few years.
“But free entry is an important part of UK public policy now. It works for us economically because you don’t pay at our front door but you do go to our shop or our cafe or go to an exhibition. We’ll get money out of you somehow.”
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