Visit any of Britain’s tourism hotspots at the height of the season and you’ll often find visitors outnumbering locals.

With the weak pound and the increased interest in “staycations” it’s a regular feature in parts of counties as popular as Cumbria.

But tourism isn’t without its downsides. The visitors spend a lot of money in an area, of course, but they also cause a certain amount of wear and tear. Large crowds take an inevitable toll on infrastructure and the environment .

Now councillors in Edinburgh want them to fork out for that. The Scottish capital has a population of 489,000 but is almost always thronged with tourists, throughout the year. It receives 3.85 million visitors annually – almost eight times its number of permanent residents.

City of Edinburgh Council has voted in favour of a “transient visitor levy” or TVL. It would add an extra £2 per night to the price of a hotel room, during the first week of any stay. The money raised would be spent on improvements to the city.

A TVL is not a new idea. Many cities in mainland Europe already do it. Bath and Oxford are interested in them.

But it would not be up to Edinburgh Council alone . It would require a vote from the Scottish parliament, unlikely to happen until next year.

And Elaine Murray, leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, has already ruled it out there – saying it was “not appropriate for our rural area”.

Should it happen on this side of the border? The hope is that an extra £2 per night is too low to put off tourists – but enough to fund important work..

The estimate is that Edinburgh’s scheme, if it goes ahead, could raise between £11.6 million and £14.6 million .

A panel would look at the city’s needs annually and decide how best to spend it. One year, for example, it could be used to make areas with heavy footfall areas more pedestrian-friendly. The next it could be spent on museums.

However any marketing expert knows that even a small discount can boost the sales of a product. A small increase could have the opposite effect.

Another £2 might not be a lot – but it might feel like a lot.

And Vanessa Metcalfe, tourism manager with Keswick Tourism Association warns it could be hard to run.

“The administration of such a scheme would be really difficult,” she reckons.

Besides, she adds: “If you are visiting an area and spending money there you are already contributing to the local economy.”

The surcharge would only apply to people staying in hotels and bed and breakfasts, and she also points out: “A lot of people come here to camp, or use camper vans. Camper vans are very popular at the moment.

“Some just come for the day. Is it fair if some people are being charged and some aren’t?

And though a £2 surcharge doesn’t sound like much, she says: “Being part of the Lake District, we want to encourage everybody to come. But for a family that could add up.”

It’s a point that Maggie McLellan, general manager of Carlisle’s Crown & Mitre Hotel, also makes. Not everyone staying in hotels are short-stay holidaymakers.

“We have businesspeople who could be working here for a month. We have corporate guests who could be booking 2,000 rooms in a year. That would make a big difference to them.”

The hotel in English Street often hosts staff from Pirelli’s other bases who are spending time at the Carlisle factory. “We have managers over from Italy and people from the headquarters in Derby. They are very regular, very loyal customers.”

Ms McLellan also questions how the money would be used. “lf it was spent on flood defences or road repairs, people would say: ‘That’s what we pay our taxes for.’

“School budgets are getting cut again. If it was going to schools or hospitals I think they would be more positive towards it.”

She adds: “How would you police it? Will the Government take it as tax, so you don’t see where it’s going? It could be very difficult to enforce.”

And any extra charge, however small it seems, can discourage customers.

“Our occupancy rates aren’t as high as they were in January and February of last year. In the current climate it could put people off.”

Tim Mosedale agrees. He is a mountaineer but has also run Elm Tree Lodge guesthouse in Keswick for the past 12 years, and says: “On the one hand it’s raising revenue.

“On the other hand it could be a bit off-putting. B&Bs are quite price-sensitive already.

“It may only be £2 – but it’s £2 on top of everything else. Tourists are already getting stung by parking charges wherever they go in Cumbria. We hear people talk about the parking charges a lot – they’re another tourist tax. So I wouldn’t be thrilled about it.”

Instead he would rather see some of the unfairnesses in the council tax rectified as a way for local authorities to bring in the money they need. “There are some properties that it could be levied on, like second homes. There are other things that should be sorted first.”

Glynis Wood also believes that a small increase could make a big difference – and warns: “It would be a bad difference, not a good one.”

Mrs Wood and her husband Simon have run Oak Bank Hotel near Grasmere also for 12 years. She reckons the combination of tighter budgets and Brexit insecurity will make most customers more careful about their spending.

So she predicts: “If you put prices up even a small amount people just wouldn’t come.

“They are going to ask what extra they are getting, but the hotel wouldn’t change.”

She adds: “Some people will quibble over 50p. There are some who would say: ‘Okay’, but they are a minority.”

If the levy did come in Mrs Wood believes it should apply across the board, to campers as well as hotel guests. “It shouldn’t differentiate between how visitors get here or how they are staying.”

However Leigh O’Donoghue, general manager of the Leathes Head Hotel in the Borrowdale valley, is supportive of the idea – and says the money raised could pay for much needed work.

“They regularly have to repair the tracks on the fells,” he says. “It could go towards that.

“The roads in Keswick take a hammering from all the cars. The road network was not built for the volumes of traffic that use it. The money tourists spend in the area doesn’t go towards that. So I think it’s a good idea.”

And he isn’t convinced that visitors would be deterred. “It tends to be better-off people who come here. If you want to visit the Lakes you will pay a few pounds extra.”