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Sinn Féin calls for tourist tax on Galway City hotels

Sinn Féin has called for a tourist tax to be levied on visitors who stay in hotels in Galway City. The party said Galway City Council could raise €1.7 million in revenue per annum if it were allowed to impose a hotel bedroom levy.

Its Local Election candidate in City Central, Mark Lohan, said it would be a sensible revenue raising measure, with the proceeds earmarked for better services for visitors and locals.

He said a tourist tax was a concept common in Europe and America and could be replicated here.

“It makes sense that a city like Galway examines how this tax would be applied and how it could benefit the city and its residents,” the former City Councillor said.

The City Council’s Corporate Policy Group previously considered the possibility of introducing a ‘hotel bed tax’ or ‘visitor’ levy on tourists staying in Galway.

Based on bed-occupancy information provided by Fáilte Ireland, the report said a €2 per room tax would’ve netted €1.6m in 2017 and 2018.

A room rate with a bed levy of 2% would bring in an estimated income of €1.9m to the Council based on 2018 occupancy.

The report noted that legally local authorities cannot levy bed taxes on visitors.

But at the time the City Council agreed to lobby the Department of Finance to introduce legislation allowing local authorities to levy bed taxes.

The idea had the backing of Fianna Fáil City Councillors

Reigniting the debate this week, Cllr Lohan said: “On a quick review of my own I estimate that it could raise €1.7 million per year for the city. This is based on a 1% levy on the 3,000 Galway city hotel rooms at €200 per night at 80% occupancy. While this may be the top end of an estimation any revenue that exceeds one million euro per year has to be considered by the City Council.

He pointed out that the recent Commission on Tax and Welfare, which sought to identify how tax systems can support economic activity and promote increased employment and prosperity, recommended the introduction of such an accommodation tax.

“Several European cities already have this system in place including Berlin, Vienna, and Rome where the levy varies from between .40 cent to €2.50 per night. This city-based tax can be ringfenced for more sustainable tourism and ensures that visitors share the responsibility of maintaining and enhancing the city and its amenities. It makes sense for us in Galway to begin the discussion with all stake holders including hotel owners. While there may be initial resistance from them, the benefits in local service improvements may show the cost is worth the benefit,” said Mr Lohan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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