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 will deliver at www.isleofwightbid.com

Who runs the BID?

The WIGHTBID is operated by Visit Isle of Wight Limited, a wholly independent, not- for-profit company limited by guarantee. It has a board of directors elected from different business sectors within the Island’s tourism 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 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 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. The result of the ballot was a ‘yes’ vote;
therefore all businesses liable for the levy are required 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. However, any business that feels it has a legitimate appeal over its inclusion within the scope of the BID should contact Visit Isle of Wight for consideration at The WIGHT BID, Visit Isle of Wight LTD, The Guildhall, Newport PO30 1TY

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. In the first year, this payment will be due in November
and in subsequent years in September.

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

The BID Company developed a BID Business Plan as part of the ballot process. This is what businesses voted in favour of when they took part in the BID ballot. This is now being driven forward by the Visit Isle of Wight Board – read the WIGHTBID proposal see what projects and initiatives the BID are delivering.

How long does the BID last?

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

Will I pay the same amount every year?

The levy is based on the rateable value of the property at 1 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 only apply from the 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 WIGHTBID 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 WIGHTBID business plan will expect levy contributions for all businesses or premises that are listed on the WIGHTBID 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 (45,000), 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 aim to return a 4:1 ROI for the levy in actual business (hopefully more…)

We also have a database of tourism providers on the Island, key players in the tourism industry, many of who would be able to pass on news of your new opening to their customers. 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 EG – Romantic breaks in February, Easter family fun, Isle of Light in October. We’re always looking for offers that chime with those themes (eg: seafood pizzas half price during festival of the sea week) that we can feature in media toolkits and campaigns we launch, typically three months ahead of the actual theme. We’re currently working on the romantics breaks theme, which covers Feb and early March and has a focus on couples dining out. 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 a marketing briefing on the 1st of November in Shanklin to take everyone through our thematic and campaign marketing for 2017, it would be great if you could send a representative to this to hear more. We can also send you a copy of the plan when it is published on the 22nd of October.

We can also create bespoke activities for levy payers who have specific campaigns they need support for. These are developed on a one to one basis, and begin with our Key Account Manager coming to see you / receive info on your aims so we can respond in a meaningful way. Once we know your KPI’s we can suggest ways we can contribute to the task, highlighting any additional cost options if appropriate. For example, we are developing a partnership agreement with Waitrose in East Cowes at present that will see us run promotions into self-catering properties to promote their order to collect or delivery options when people come on holiday.

It is worth pointing out that our activities are aimed almost exclusively at visitors to the Island. We carry very few promotions out 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 > https://visitwightpro.com/contact-us/


“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. Nevertheless, many retailers, including most superstores, told us that they will contribute to the WIGHT BID, which is why a voluntary contribution scheme has been added to the plan.  Large superstores, Tescos for example, told us they would be prepared to invest in activities that attracted more visitors to events like the Scooter Rally. This voluntary scheme will be launched if the WIGHT BID receives a yes vote in July.

The appendix at the back of WIGHT BID proposal (and the earlier draft and online versions) clearly states which categories of business are proposed as levy payers.


“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: IWCouncil. 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.

Clearly, everyone wants the Islands tourism economy to be as successful as possible, and this requires investment from somewhere. The WIGHT BID is proposed as the next step in developing that economy and includes a commitment to search for additional “off-Island” funding sources. Therefore a panel, elected from levy payers, will explore additional opportunities, including the £40million “Discover England fund”, EU coastal community grants, and all other options to build a World-class destination that we can all be proud of.


“Where do the visitor statistics that Visit Isle of Wight quotes 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 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 Easters tend to reduce trips in March before the Easter break, whereas later Easters often lead 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.

If the WIGHT BID becomes a reality, it will be for the levy payers to decide how tourism should be evaluated and reported in the future.


“ 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 the levy payers, who oversee the plans, governance, and help 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 their £180 web page 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 any more?”

Due to central government’s austerity, it has dramatically reduced its funding to local authorities and therefore the IWCouncil 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

On the Island there will be a few hereditaments within the proposed NNDR classifications that genuinely don’t generate any direct income from visitors. Whilst these businesses may have customers who work in hotels, attractions, bars & restaurants they will, normally because of their location, not be used by visitors to the Island.   The Wight BID will provide benefits to these businesses which will have a direct impact on their business costs with third party deals and offers.  The BID will also work with these businesses specifically to ensure that they maximise the opportunity of being part of a network of over 1,000 Island businesses. 


Do you have a question about the WIGHT BID? Send your question to feedback@visitwight.org