Simon Kirby is the Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven. Follow Simon on Twitter.
It's not often I feel the need to write to Ed Miliband. Here in Brighton the sun is shining, hundreds of thousands of visitors are spending money, and I am busy working hard as a local MP. For example, the last fortnight saw me supporting Brighton Pride, celebrating 130 years of the Volk's Railway, picking litter off the beach, and attending the Rottingdean Village Fair, to name but a few diary engagements. These all have one thing in common: tourism.
Tourism is Britain’s fifth-largest industry, our third-largest export earner, and worth about £115 billion a year. It employs some 2.6 million people and supports over 200,000 SME’s. Overseas visitors contribute £3 billion to the Treasury every year. Locally, tourism is worth a staggering £1 billion per year to Brighton & Hove's economy, and supports over 13,000 full-time-equivalent local jobs. According to labour market statistics, there are 137,000 jobs in Brighton & Hove and, based on City Council’s own report, around 14 per cent of these jobs are supported by tourism generated turnover.
Whilst Brighton has worked hard to reinvent itself in a way that a number of other seaside towns have sadly failed to do, I am always conscious of the need to keep Brighton competitive and attractive to potential visitors to keep them coming to sample the many excellent facilities the City has to offer. I was therefore very worried to hear that Labour's front bencher Sadiq Khan was suggesting a tourism tax, which was how I found myself in the unusual position of writing to Ed Miliband, asking him to abandon Labour’s Tourism Tax policy.