B&B tourism rate of $500 too expensive

A $500 flat rate on Dunedin's bed and breakfast owners was too heavy a price to pay for businesses often run by retired people for a small second source of income, the annual plan hearing was told yesterday.

The hearing has received 40 submissions on the issue, with one of the first from Dick Williman, of Waverley.

He said the council needed to get a better feel for the industry it was targeting before going ahead with the plan.

The change for bed and breakfast establishments meant all those categorised residential and providing accommodation of less than one month at commercial rates would be charged a flat rate of $500.

The plan arose from a council rates and funding working party last year, which had received complaints from some sectors of the tourism industry about bed and breakfast operations, some of which were residential and rented one or two rooms, with others fully commercial.

The sector benefited from council tourism and development funding, but not everyone contributed.

But Mr Williman countered that B&Bs were often operated by retired couples who normally relied on pensions, but enjoyed the extra cash from such a business for luxuries otherwise unavailable.

They were often run from larger family homes, like his, and the guests did not provide the main source of income.

Mr Williman's business made just over $3000 last year, though it had not operated for the full season.

"Our argument is not a reluctance to pay a fair share of the benefits we get from tourism promotion, but that it should only be a fair share."

Asked by Cr Bill Acklin what would be an appropriate rate, Mr Williman said a $100 flat rate, while still disproportionate, would be "simple and fair".

John Elder, of Peninsula Pathways Bed and Breakfast, in Macandrew Bay, told the hearing he already paid a 12% commission to the council's Visitor Centre when it referred guests.

Most guests came from his business's own advertising, though, which was a major expense.

"It would be a shame to lose the services of small B&Bs in an effort to gain further revenue," Mr Elder said.

Kay King, of Crabapple Cottage, in Harington Point Rd, said the rate was unfair.

"$500 is a really large chunk for a small undertaking."

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