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Tourism tax: Overstrand looks to fund coastal management schemes

30 January 12 13:11
View from clifftop at Overstrand

Businesses in north Norfolk are considering ideas to introduce a small voluntary tourism tax to help fund coastal erosion management schemes.

Traders in Overstrand feel the scheme would encourage visitors to contribute to the ongoing cost of defences needed to shore up the village's coastline.

Lorraine Love, of the Cliff Top Cafe, was confident her customers would be "more than happy" to pay the tax.

The idea is supported by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC).

If agreed, visitors to the area would have the voluntary tax added to service bills from local businesses taking part in the scheme.

Angie Fitch-Tillett, portfolio holder for the coast at NNDC which is responsible for coastal management from Kelling to Cart Gap, said: "We welcome this initiative from the community at Overstrand and look forward to working with them and the surrounding parishes.

"We believe that our tourists really value this spectacular coast and I'm sure they would like to be able to contribute a small amount to its management and get a form of personal ownership in return.

"We would always do everything we can possible to identify all available sources of funding to assist any schemes that are created by local communities."

'Taking initiative'

Stuart Holmes, chair of the Overstrand shoreline management committee, said the tax idea was inspired by a model used in California.

"What local businesses did is they got together and put a voluntary 1% tourist tax on each bill... I don't know whether that's something we could adapt for Overstrand," he said.

"It wouldn't necessarily all be local money, you're engaging with national and international funds as well - but we're taking the initiative locally to make sure we continue to live in a fabulous village."

Cafe owner Lorraine Love added: "On a lovely day 90% of my business is coming over the coastal path, it only needs a small part of that to go in [erode] and the business is in trouble."

But some listeners to BBC Radio Norfolk were opposed to the idea.

Commenting on the radio station's Facebook page Matthew McDonnell said: "It's one sure way to scare tourists away... Norfolk tourism is already worth £500m a year - we can't squeeze any more money out of summer tourists without scaring them away to Newquay or Brighton if we're not careful."

The story is featured on BBC Inside Out East at 19:30 GMT on Monday.

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