Blue Mountains City Council has ruled out introducing a new ‘tourism tax’ only three weeks after possible plans for a daytripper charge made tabloid headlines and caused a sensation on talkback radio.
Council won’t even investigate plans for a tourism levy following a unanimous vote at its meeting on Tuesday night, December 1.
Councillor Terri Hamilton led the charge against the revenue-raising measure, saying the local tourism industry was “absolutely horrified” council was considering the measure.
“I feel we should send a strong message, not only to the tourism people here but to members of the community and to the Sydney media, that we are not going to go along these lines because it will stop people from coming here,” said the Ward 1 councillor who is also council’s representative on the Blue Mountains Tourism Ltd board.
Ward 4 Clr Mark Greenhill backed her stance, saying he would not support a tax on the local tourism industry.
“I believe the council will be rightly publicly condemned if we go down this course and I will not put my name to it,” he said.
But not all the harsh words were saved for the ‘tourism tax’ — The Daily Telegraph’s coverage of the issue also came under strong fire from Ward 3 Clr Alison McLaren.
The Labor councillor described the tabloid’s prominent coverage of the issue as “shocking journalism”.
“I caution councillors against making decisions based on what the Daily Telegraph wants,” she said.
Although it ruled out pursuing a compulsory tourism charge, council will get a report about introducing a tourism donations scheme.
Councillors Creed, Myles, Hamilton and Greenhill voted against this with Clrs McLaren, Van der Kley, Clark, Searle, Gibbs and Mays in favour of getting a report. Councillors Luchetti and McCallum were not at the meeting.
Council also dropped plans to look at raising extra revenue through parking meters.
It will revisit this issue at a later date.