How to make money from tourists
With thousands of tourists descending upon Britain, there's plenty of chances to make a few quid out of them!
2012 is the year of the tourist. It’s all coming to Britain this summer; we’ve got the Olympics, the Jubilee celebrations and even World Pride.
As a Brit, it makes my heart swell with patriotic fervour. As a taxpayer, I’ll admit I’m a bit worried. The Olympics alone is costing over £9.3 billion, which is hardly small change in the current financial climate.
In fact, a recent report from Parliament’s spending watchdog warned that the overall cost is likely to be around £11 billion, although the Government disputes that figure.
It’s not all bad, of course. Most of that money has been spent with UK-based businesses, which has means considerable economic benefits for struggling smaller firms.
According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, British companies have won almost £6 billion of contracts for building and supply the Games.
In total, 98% of the contracts let by the Olympic Delivery Authority have been given to UK-based firms and two-thirds of them were awarded to small or medium-sized enterprises.
That’s great news, but most of us are still feeling financially squeezed. Watching the Government spend £553 million on security alone can’t help but sting.
But hundreds of thousands of tourists, both foreign and British, will be flocking to the country’s major cities for the various events and celebrations, so can you make a few pounds out of them? After all, your taxes are paying for the party.
Here’s how you can make some money from the influx of tourists, wherever you may live.
Rent out your house
Are you quite simply sick to death of the Olympics? If you see another Olympic logo on a chocolate bar, will you lose control? Do you have to fight back the urge to throttle the Wenlock and Mandeville Olympic mascots every time you see them? Then maybe it’s time for a break.
One option is to rent out your entire house for the duration of the Games and use the cash you make to flee the country and enjoy a holiday instead.
Clearly Londoners are going to make the most money this way, but there are Olympic events happening all across the UK, including in Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow. Every Olympic location is likely to get a tourism boost this summer.
Properties in the key cities could easily be let for over a thousand pounds a week during the Games. Take a look on websites like Gumtree and rentduringthegames.com to see what prices other would-be landlords are charging.
For example, on the Gumtree website, a one-bedroom flat with a sofa bed in north London is being advertised for £150 a night or £1,000 a week.
Of course, there are risks associated with letting out your actual home, so this isn’t something to rush into. You’d need to give the tourists enough space to live, which might mean moving your own clothes and treasured belongings into the attic or storage.
You’d also need to inform your home insurer and mortgage provider of your plans. If you’re skipping the country for the duration, you’ll want a friend or family member to act as a contact in case of any emergencies.
Still, if you’re comfortable with the risks then this could be a way to fund a decent holiday and escape the endless Olympic obsessing.
Rent out a room
Of course, you don’t have to rent an entire house. If you have a spare room, you could let it out during the summer celebrations. It might even be quite fun having an enthusiastic tourist or backpacker crashing at your house and explaining the rules of water polo.
Under the Government’s Rent-A-Room scheme, you can earn up to £4,250 a year without paying any tax, so this is a really simple way to earn some money.
And once again, this isn’t just restricted to London – although rooms in the capital will be worth the most.
If you want someone else to take care of the business side of things then a company like Airbnb might be better for you. It’s free to list your home or room and then Airbnb collects 3% of all reservation fees, while guests are charged 6-12% of the booking fee.
You can choose whether you want to rent a room or your home for one night, a weekend or even longer. Airbnb collects the money for you, saving you an awkward conversation with a lodger who might feel more like a guest after a few days.
Rent your driveway
Parking space is going to be at even more of a premium than usual in London this summer. If you have space on a driveway or in a garage then you could consider renting it out to one of the thousands of tourists and Olympic workers who will be flocking to the capital.
Websites like ParkAtMyHouse.com let you advertise your parking space for free, although you pay a 15% commission on any successful bookings. Alternatively, you could simply advertise it on a classifieds site.
For example, one advert on Gumtree right now is advertising a parking space in Mitcham, London, for £50 a week.
If you let out your entire house, you will have to declare the money you make to the taxman; it doesn’t come under the Rent-A-Room scheme.
There are tax breaks for letting furnished holiday homes in the UK, but only on properties that you make available for at least 140 days a year. That means that letting your home out over the summer would be treated as a residential letting.
Contact HMRC to find out the best way to pay any taxes owed. The taxman may simply tweak your PAYE code, so don’t be put off because you can’t face completing a self-assessment tax return.
Whatever you’re advertising, be careful not to give too much information away. If you make it obvious that you’ll be away for certain dates, you could attract burglars or con artists.
For example, if you advertise your drive and explain that you’re out of the house between 8.30am and 5.30pm then you’re making yourself look like an easy target. So be very careful what information you share.
You also need to be entirely confident about anyone you let a room or your house to. Make sure you see ID, take a deposit and full payment upfront, and lay down ground rules such as no smoking or pets.
You won’t make much money out of the Olympics if you’re replacing stolen property or the people you lease your home to run off without paying.
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