Chester unveils plans for ‘tourist tax’ to raise £1m

Overnight visitors to Chester could soon be paying a ‘tourist tax’ in a proposal that could raise £1m a year to fund events and festivals in the city. Tony McDonough reports

There are plans for a tourism tax in Chester city centre. Picture by Tony McDonough


Chester is looking to capitalise on its £2bn-a-year visitor economy by introducing a ‘tourist tax’ from 2025.

Destination Chester, a network of the city’s attractions and businesses, along with Chester City Centre BID and the Chester Hospitality Association, are pushing the idea which would see guests at 27 hotels paying £2 plus VAT per room per night.

It is estimated this would raise more than £1m a year that could be spent on promoting the city as well as funding events and festivals. 

Chester hoteliers will be invited to vote on the proposed visitor charge, set out in a detailed, five-year business plan, in June and July this year.

If the majority vote in favour, a new Accommodation BID (ABID) would be established with the charge introduced from January 2025. Liverpool established an Accommodation BID in 2022 but has not introduced a tourist tax as yet.

In 2022 the Cheshire West and Chester local authority area welcomed more than 28m visitors, up on the previous year (affected by COVID) but still down on the 37m visitors from the last pre-pandemic year in 2019.

Visitor spend was worth around £2bn in 2022, below the 2.5bn spent in 2019. Chester’s Roman heritage is a big draw for visitors, as are Chester Races, although some local traders are fed up with the rowdiness it brings.

Chester Zoo is also on the city’s doorstep and it alone attracts around 2m visitors a year. It is one of the most popular paid-for attractions in the UK.

Public funding for tourism promotion has declined in recent times and tourism leaders believe the charge will generate the investment needed to attract more visitors to stay in the city’s hotels and create more jobs in the city.

This Chester ABID plan follows the success of a similar scheme in Manchester. Other cities and regions including Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, and Cambridge have either introduced, or will soon vote on similar plans.

Cheshire West and Chester Council and tourism body Marketing Cheshire are also involved in the ABID proposal and ballot process.

If the vote is in favour, the Chester Accommodation BID would come into force in January 2025, and be governed by a board of accommodation providers and visitor economy partners.


Chester Canal
Chester is a popular visitor destination. Picture by Tony McDonough
Chester Zoo attracts around 2m visitors a year. Picture by Chester Zoo


Colin Potts, chair of Destination Chester, said: “The Chester Accommodation BID offers the potential for a game-changing investment in our city’s visitor economy, that would allow us to build on and improve the incredible tourism offer we already provide.

“It brings together our hotels and other tourism businesses to create an ambitious long-term plan that will provide new resources to encourage more overnight visitors and longer stays – and at no cost to our businesses.

READ MORE: 58 years and counting… will Cunard cruises ever return to Liverpool?

READ MORE: Chester Zoo recovery accelerates as revenues hit £50m

“Our visitor economy continues to recover after a few difficult years, but we are competing for attention in a hugely challenging market, nationally and internationally.

“This approach and funding could energise that recovery and bring a massive boost to our hotels, attractions and employers across the city.”

Click here to read the plans in more detail.

You might also like More from author

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Username field is empty.