Wight BID FAQ’s

“What is the BID for?”

BID stands for Business Improvement District (BID). It does not replace the statutory activities or services carried out by the council, police or other public agencies. It is an arrangement under which local businesses improve their own trading environment and agree via a BID operating company how the levy should be spent on a range of projects to boost the Island’s tourism economy and increase footfall. Find out about the projects the BID is delivering at www.visitwightpro.com


“Who runs the BID?”

The Wight BID is operated by Visit Isle of Wight Limited, a wholly independent, not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. It has a board of directors representing levy paying strategic partners & the many different sectors within the visitor economy.


“Are all business properties included in the BID levy?”

All non-domestic rateable tourism businesses within the categories chosen from the Council NNDR database in the BID area with a rateable value of £3000 and above will receive a BID bill. The BID levy is set at a rate of 1.75% of the rateable value for a business with rateable value of £3000 or more. The minimum levy payment for any hereditament (a property subject to rateable assessment) will be £150 per annum. If you own two or more properties in the BID area, you will receive separate BID bills for each property. Your annual BID bill will show the rate at which your BID levy is calculated.


“Why is the Isle of Wight Council collecting the BID levy?”

BID legislation requires local authorities to be the billing body. In addition, the council already has systems and procedures in place to collect income such as the BID levy.


“What happens to the BID levy when it is collected by the council?”

All money collected by the council is paid directly to the BID operating company (Visit Isle of Wight Ltd) to deliver projects and initiatives in the BID area.


“What happens if I don’t agree with the BID Levy?”

Following over six months of wide consultation, a ballot was carried out in July 2016 and all businesses within the NNDR categories listed in the BID proposal were given the opportunity to vote for or against the BID levy. In July 2016, a YES vote was recorded and the BID came into statutory being on the 1st September. The BID runs for five years and all businesses within the NNDR categories listed in the BID proposal whose rateable value is £3,000 or more become liable to pay.


“What happens if I refuse to pay?”

It is hoped that all businesses will see the benefits of contributing to the BID. In the event of non-payment, on behalf of the BID operating company (Visit Isle of Wight Ltd), the council will recover any sums due in line with normal recovery processes. This means
that defaulters will receive a reminder notice and if payment is not received then a summons will be issued.

Visit Isle of Wight Ltd realizes that there may, exceptionally, be organisations within the included Wight BID classifications that do not have the opportunity to benefit directly or indirectly from visitors and their expenditure. This appeals procedure allows for exemptions to be considered on a case by case basis. To apply, please visit: https://visitwightpro.com/wight-bid-appeals-process/

Please note that appeals will only be considered if received within 45 days of the date of issue of the current BID levy demand notice.


“Why is the levy not collected with rates?”

Business Rates and the BID levy are completely separate. The council must collect business rates in line with statutory provisions which are different from the legal provisions surrounding a BID levy.


“What do I pay my business rates for?”

Business rates, along with Council tax, help to fund the services that the Council provides. These include roads and transport infrastructure, the police, domestic refuse collection, and fire brigade. The rates are the way the users of non-domestic property contribute towards the cost of providing these essential services. The BID levy is a separate payment to fund agreed business benefits for your business.


“Can I pay by instalments?”

You will receive an annual bill for your BID account payable in one instalment. Though you can pay on account before the due date, you cannot pay by instalments.


“When will I start to see the benefits of the BID levy?”

The main actions that the BID is undertaking between 2017 and 2021 should not only encourage more visitors to want to come on holiday to the Isle of Wight, but also encourage those visitors to spend more money while they are here. With a more successful visitor economy, and your business making sure that it is meeting the demands of a modern visitor, we hope that you will see a positive return on your investment.


“How long does the BID last?”

The Wight BID term operates for five years. It started on 1st September 2016 and will end on 31st August 2021


“Will I pay the same amount every year?”

The levy is based on the rateable value of the property at 1st September each year. The levy will change from the following BID year, only if the rateable value of the property changes.


“What happens if my rateable value reduces because of an appeal I have made?”

Reductions or increases on rateable value will be applied from the start of the following BID financial year, after the amendment.


“What happens if I move my business out of the BID area or stop trading?”

If you vacate your property, or stop trading after 1st September each year, then as stated in the Wight BID business plan you will be required to pay the BID levy in full for the year


“What happens if my property is empty/vacant?”

The Wight BID business plan will expect levy contributions for all businesses or premises that are listed on the Wight BID database.


“What marketing help do I get in return for my levy payment?”

As a levy payer, your products can be featured in a great deal of our digital and published marketing – which includes options in newsletters, emails (over 51,000 subscribers), travel trade, social media support, participation in press events/event support, a page on our website under appropriate listings, inclusion in thematic campaigns & a whole host of things that happen throughout the year.

We also have a database of tourism providers on the Island, many of who are key players in the tourism industry – a crucial and valuable opportunity to share your news with the Island’s tourism industry. Some of these members may be happy to circulate offers to their visitors on your behalf, so we can help you by passing that information on to the 1600 tourism contacts on our database.

Our campaigns work thematically. We’re always looking for offers that we can feature in the various toolkits and campaigns we launch, typically three months ahead of the actual theme. By signing up for our industry newsletter you will automatically receive requests to appear in these campaigns at the right time. You can sign up here> http://islandbreaks.us6.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=0500b55ff1996e28560df4025&id=2bb342f463

We are hosting Year 2 Wight BID planning cycle sessions between the 4th and 10th October 2017. This enables levy payers to provide feedback on our suggested plan for next year. If you are unable to attend the discussion group please complete our online form with your thoughts. For more information on the sessions please visit www.visitwightpro.com

We can also create bespoke activities for levy payers who have specific campaigns they need support for. It is worth pointing out that our activities are aimed almost exclusively at visitors to the Island. We carry out very few promotions on Island, but sometimes the work we do reaches both visitors and locals.

You’re entitled to a free page on our top ranking website worth £350. We also use these web pages of information about your product to inform the press and build thematic listings and features in forthcoming campaigns, so it’s good to have info and photos on our system for that reason – and it’s free to levy payers! You can add special offers, packages and for a small extra charge there are a number of bolt on options for social media, online booking and priority ranking of your listing.

CONTACT > info@visitwight.org


“Why are the Island’s retailers not included in the Wight BID levy scope?

Back in November when we launched the Island wide consultation into a DBID we approached all sectors of the Island’s economy that benefit in some way from visitor spending, this included the retail sector. We spoke to representatives from most of the Island’s town business associations and retail groups, superstores and some of the Islands larger family run retail businesses. By January we realised that the majority of the retail sector had quite different ideas about how the money should be spent (EG: on car park subsidies, street signage, town centre promotions) to those of the tourism industry, who wanted “attract marketing”, improvements to our resorts and beaches, better access and affordable travel to the Island. As BID’s have to deliver a programme set by those who pay, it was proposed and agreed by those who attended the consultations that the Wight BID needed to focus on tourism. This leaves the door open for local retail/town centre BIDS to be developed to address specific issues to improve the retail economy. BID legislation does not allow us to “pick and choose” specific retailers for mandatory inclusion; the sector must be all in or all out. We have introduced a voluntary subscribers’ scheme and hope to encourage large retailers who benefit from visitor footfall to contribute to the business plan, either by sponsorship or other contribution.

The appendix at the back of Wight BID proposal clearly states which NNDR categories of business are included within the BID scope.


“Were other funding mechanisms and options considered before the Wight BID was proposed?”

Yes. We spent a year looking at other mechanisms in the UK and across the world. These included bed tax, visitor tax (as has recently been announced in Mallorca), some sort of voluntary visitor scheme, crowd funding, EU grants, Government subsidies, and totally commercial models. Those who attended the early consultations are aware of this work as we covered it in our presentations. Some of these systems require changes in UK law before they can be introduced in this country, and considerable nervousness was expressed about the idea of an Island Visitor Tax, especially as it would be the first in the UK. More than 240 BIDs are currently operating in the UK, and despite the clear and obvious challenges this mechanism brings with it, on the whole they are very successful because of the robust legislation and requirements for the organisation managing the BID to deliver what the levy payers want.

Up until 11 years ago one organisation was responsible for tourism delivery here on the Island: Isle of Wight Council. 11 years ago some of those delivery elements were given to the Chamber of Commerce, 4 years ago the partnership was made considerably broader with the creation of Visit Isle of Wight who brought 12 organisations together including the Chamber and the Council, the transport providers and some attractions. Panels and consultation groups were also established, these included the Chambers Tourism Advisory Board which contains representatives from all sectors of the Island’s tourism economy, including retail. The Wight BID is the evolution of that move to create a fully-inclusive tourism agency that gives every tourism business the right to be heard and influence the strategic and operational plan. There are many brilliant business development specialists and industry experts living and working on the Island, and the Wight BID provides a framework for everyone to work together in a way that has not previously been possible on the Isle of Wight.


“Where do the visitor statistics that Visit Isle of Wight quote come from?”

When Visit Isle of Wight was created in October 2012 it was asked, by Isle of Wight Council, to continue funding the “Tourism Trends Research” which had been previously established and used for many years by the Council. We investigated the way the survey is carried out, took additional advice from other research groups and decided that it was sensible to carry on funding the research, which costs £15,000 a year. We do not carry out the research ourselves, nor do we have any influence over the reports produced, which are part of a wider economic report that Tourism South East (TSE) prepare and deliver to Visit England. TSE did remove the aggregated total value of tourism that used to be reported, to just report on the direct value of tourism, and the figures for previous years were also adjusted to match like for like. Additionally, TSE used to report “rolling 12 month periods”, which meant that figures issued in the summer included half of the year before, this can lead to a false impression of the impact of campaigns carried out in any one year and was consequently stopped a few years ago. You can read all the Tourism Trend reports produced by Tourism South East since Visit Isle of Wight was created by following this link.

 Advice from Tourism South East: There are many variables in comparing performance year on year. For example, an earlier Easter tends to reduce trips in March before the Easter break, whereas a later Easter often leads to additional breaks in March. It’s therefore very important to compare like with like when looking at early and late season performance – especially when lower overall visitor numbers during the shoulder periods tend to increase the margin of error considerably. Many tourism professionals aggregate the year into rolling 12 month periods or choose to look at the period from January to June (after Spring bank holiday) to get an accurate picture of the trends in play.

The BID advisory Marketing panel will decide how best to evaluate and report on visitor numbers as we take the BID plan forward.


“My business is exempt from, or pays reduced business rates. Does this mean that I will be exempt from, or pay a reduced BID levy?”

No. All businesses will pay a levy based on their full rateable value. Though the rateable value is used to measure the amount hereditaments will pay, there is no other connection to non-domestic rates, as the BID levy is a business investment, not a tax.


“What do you mean by new visitors?”

Visitors who have never been to the Island, or haven’t visited since they were a child. This includes specific markets like educational visits and special interest groups as well as couples, families and those who visit for specific sporting events, festivals or other reasons.


“Isn’t the Wight BID a TAX?”

No. Unlike a tax, the money that is raised is spent on delivering a plan which will bring direct commercial benefit back to those who contribute. That plan is governed by representatives of the levy payers, who oversee the plans, governance, and help to decide the methods and techniques used to achieve the aims that they voted for.


“I can’t afford to pay an extra £150 a year, my business will collapse”

The purpose of the Wight BID is to provide investment that will be returned to all levy payers in additional business, just as an advert in a local newspaper would do. By pooling resources and ensuring all levy payers have a say in how the money is spent, the BID will bring you additional revenue that you wouldn’t otherwise have. All levy payers will receive the web page (worth £350) on the official tourism website for free for five years, for hundreds of tourism businesses this represents a saving before any BID work is even carried out.


“Why is the Council not funding tourism anymore?”

Due to central government’s austerity measures, it has dramatically reduced its funding to local authorities and therefore the Isle of Wight Council has had to reduce its spending by around 35%. This has meant that a wide range of ‘discretionary’ services have been removed from their annual expenditure. This included their annual investment into tourism marketing for the Island. However, the Council will be levy payers within the Wight BID. They also continue to provide resources & support for much of the Island’s infrastructure and encourage new events & inward investment.


“My business is already full most of the year, why should I pay for marketing I don’t need”

Your ability to earn your income from tourism relies on there being visitor services, attractions, tidy beaches and well managed open countryside. It also relies on destination advertising on the mainland which, after many years, has now stopped. You may be able to sustain your customer base for a while, but if the whole Island ceases to be appealing, sooner or later a proportion of your visitors will try out new destinations who have worked together to develop compelling reasons to visit.  There are now over 240 BIDS in the UK and many have a tourism focus with the aim of luring visitors away from destinations like the Isle of Wight.


I’ve been included but my business doesn’t benefit from visitor income”

Visit Isle of Wight Ltd realises that there may, exceptionally, be organisations within the included Wight BID classifications that do not have the opportunity to benefit directly or indirectly from visitors and their expenditure. This appeals procedure allows for exemptions to be considered on a case by case basis.  To apply please visit: https://visitwightpro.com/wight-bid-appeals-process/

Please note that appeals will only be considered if received within 45 days of the date of issue of the current BID levy demand notice.


For Wight BID enquiries please email bid@visitwight.org or call 01983 554954