A former Lord Mayor of Dublin and a leading environmentalist believe the introduction of a tourist tax in the city would benefit the entire country.
Independent Councillor Christy Burke and John Gibbons, a member of An Taisce’s climate change committee, believe tourism chiefs should encourage tourist taxes in line with European norms.
An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. They are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues.
Last February, Scottish government officials in Edinburgh ensured that the city was the first in Scotland and the UK to charge visitors a 'tourist tax’.
The £2 (€2.19) per night tax or room charge would raise up to £14.6m (€15.95m) a year, the City of Edinburgh Council has claimed. Plans for the tax, or the Transient Visitor Levy (TVL), would exempt campsites, and there is a cap of seven consecutive nights.
Cities such as Paris in France, Venice in Italy and Barcelona in Spain have already introduced taxes after conceding to calls for similar powers, while other cities in these countries already impose tourist taxes.
Berlin in Germany imposes a 5% room tax, Paris charges per bed night and in Amsterdam, there is a 7% straight tax according to Mr Gibbons.
“The (tourist tax) is the European norm. Tourists create substantial costs on towns. Central Statistic Office (CSO) figures for last year show there were 36.5 million passenger movements in and out of Ireland, (with a large proportion of the figures being tourists)," he said.
Cllr Burke said: “I believe such a tax is worth bringing in but it has to have conditions attached to it for it to work. The Capital, as in business and Government authorities, should think about this really good idea.
“Perhaps other large cities across the country would entertain the same way of thinking.
“A €5 nightly tax for those stay in luxury or elite hotels would work as it could be used to fund senior citizen communities and charities dealing with the likes of homelessness etc.
€5 per night is not going to break the bank for those staying in such accommodation. It would channel much-needed funding where people need it most.
“The funding would have to be ring-fenced so it would not just go straight into the Exchequer coffers. Every budget meeting at Dublin City Council results in councillors discussing this issue and I would like to see it brought in sooner, rather than later. This is such a good idea.”
In a statement, Dublin City Council pointed out that they do not have the legislative provision to introduce such a tax.
Up to 11.2 million tourists visited the entire country last year according to number crunchers in the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
A significant percentage, more than half of the figures, are visiting and staying in Dublin alone, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce points out.
Graeme McQueen, Chamber spokesperson said that any tourist tax “in theory” is not that much to have to pay.
However, Mr McQueen pointed out that the “last thing the city needs to be is uncompetitive but we are not opposed to such a tax as long as any revenue generated from it would be used to benefit Dublin in a transparent way".
"Every few months, the prospect of such a tax, is raised in business meetings," he said.