AS A tourism provider in Cumbria, I find myself nodding in agreement with many of the proposals set out in the Lake District National Park Authority's draft Local Plan

There has been a genuine attempt to reconcile the need to protect this beautiful but fragile landscape with the economic and employment benefits which visitors bring to the region.

However, alarm bells do start to ring when I read that the authority would like to usher in an extra charge payable by businesses for developing or expanding their enterprises. The charge is benignly described as a "financial contribution" towards sustainable travel and infrastructure. But from where I'm sitting, it's looking mightily like a tourism tax.

In other words, firms already heavily burdened by locally-payable business rates will now have to reach even further into their pockets in order to improve or grow. For many, there will be no option but to reflect this additional cost in their prices – and their customers will find themselves paying a tourism tax by stealth.

Like many others tourism operators in Cumbria, ours is a long-established family business, and we take great pride in trying constantly to improve the experiences of our guests. This often involves investment in new developments which also help to reinforce the Lake District's reputation as a world-class destination.

But we are also conscious that we must remain competitive, so we choose to absorb these costs rather than try to gain any short-term return by raising prices. A back-door tourism tax could have the effect of stifling such initiatives by businesses, or forcing them to charge their customers more.

If the former, there will be an inevitable slowing in the growth of new high-quality developments which the LDNPA, quite properly, seeks to encourage. If the latter, we must be prepared to see some visitors voting with their feet and supporting the tourism economies – and jobs - of other regions of Britain which are not pricing themselves out of the holiday market.

It's perhaps a perfect example of the law of unintended consequences at work. The very act of imposing a "financial contribution" to help fund environmental work will actually see a reduction in the availability of such resources. It could also impact on the £2.9 billion annual boost which visitors bring to Cumbria's economy, and the 65,000 jobs which they sustain*.

The LDNPA points out that there are many complex challenges to be managed in the national park. Its plan addresses these under separate headings, ranging from climate change and supporting local communities, to farming and housing provision. However, actions taken in one area will almost invariably impact on another, and might subsequently end up frustrating what is trying to be achieved, as is the case with the proposed tourism levy.

Behind the LDNP Local Plan is much imaginative, pragmatic and original thinking. But ought it to be just a little more joined up?

Henry Wild

Director, Skelwith Fold Caravan Park