VISIT IW is hoping to secure another five year period of the WightBID levy when the first term comes to an end this summer.

The move comes as three hotels were taken to court for non-payment of the mandatory fee — among six per cent of Island businesses forced to pay the levy through the courts.

The Queensmead Hotel in Shanklin was made subject of a liability order of £447 including enforcement fees, and the Trouville Hotel in Sandown was made subject of a liability order of £1,819 including enforcement fees.

Representatives of another Sandown hotel were also called to court for outstanding payment of £269, £780, £200 and £1,305 but this was settled by payment before the court date.

One hotel owner told the County Press he had tried to protest by not paying, but ultimately had no choice.

He said he hoped the scheme would be scrapped, and it had been unfair to have to continue to pay the levy while hotels were forcibly closed due to the pandemic.

Visit IW said the businesses had been granted a 20 per cent discount on the rate, due to the enforced lockdowns.

The hotel owner said: "We had always paid in good faith but we didn't feel the 20 per cent reduction was enough when we've barely traded.

"Money from the government grants has been pretty reasonable, we are certainly not complaining about that, but the bid levy was not proportionate.

"You pay all this money but you never know if it's made any difference. I would doubt it has made any different to us."

WightBID is a Business Improvement District focused on the off-Island destination marketing of the Island as a whole.

The outputs of the WightBID are created and delivered by Visit Isle of Wight, the BID management company.

WightBID came into force in September 2016 for a five year term, due to expire on August 31.

Visit IW said there are plans being developed for a new proposal for a further five-year BID period, and full details will be released soon.

In any normal year, there are approximately 1,250 businesses that fall into the WightBID categories that pay the levy, equating to an average of under £500,000 per BID year.

The businesses pay differing rates based on a percentage figure of their property rateable value, with the base level at £150.

Businesses can be taken to court to secure the outstanding debt, in the same way they can for council tax and business rates.

Visit IW said on average six per cent of businesses are taken to court, with 94 per cent paying the levy as required.

Over the five year period, the monies collected have been spent primarily on high profile marketing campaigns, which have taken the form of billboards, large poster sites, London Tube posters, activities at Waterloo station, digital advertising, social media campaigns and door-drop activities.

The outputs, showing what has been done, have been communicated through printed and digital highlight reports, with the information available on the industry website, supported by industry e-newsletters.

Competition across UK destinations has become fierce, Visit IW said, as companies that rely on longer haul overseas business have had to change their focus to the domestic market.

Will Myles, managing director at Visit Isle of Wight, said: "In what has been an extremely difficult time, it has been encouraging to see Island businesses working together to help increase the amount of visitors here and ultimately supporting one of the most important economic drivers for the Isle of Wight.

"Visit Isle of Wight has worked with government at all levels, from local to national, national industry bodies and organisations and most importantly with the businesses here on the Island, to ensure support is available where possible and to keep the Isle of Wight in people’s minds when they are making crucial holiday and short break decisions."

Find out more about WightBID here