SLTA remains “totally opposed” to the introduction of a local discretionary transient visitor levy – or tourist tax – for Scotland.
Members of the public, businesses and the tourism sector are being asked for their views on the design of a levy which would let local authorities charge visitors a fee for staying overnight in their area.
The money generated by local authorities which decide to introduce a tourist tax would be retained by them for reinvesting back into tourism-related activities in that community.
Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, said: “Many business sectors, other than accommodation providers, benefit from tourist spend so any tourist tax if introduced should not be solely directed at this sector.
“Targeting accommodation providers is disproportionate when other sectors benefit from tourism and also have a greater impact on council services and resources.”
However, Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes said: “The Scottish Government is committed to devolving more power to local authorities as well as taking steps to safeguard the future of Scotland’s vibrant tourism industry.
“That is why we are looking for views from members of the public as well as industry on the principles of a transient visitor levy – often called a tourist tax.
“This will not be a national tax and it will be for individual local authorities to decide whether or not to apply an overnight fee if they consider it appropriate for the local community. Money raised by those local authorities who introduce a levy will be retained by them to invest in local tourism activity, helping to safeguard the sustainability of the industry.”
The SLTA also notes that:
- Alcohol licensed accommodation providers already pay a disproportionate level of commercial rates compared with any other business sectors and already contribute to Business Improvement Districts and other initiatives to attract tourists to the city. What other sector contributes 8.5% of its turnover in commercial rates?
- Any tourist tax means additional costs for UK and foreign visitors (60% of visitors to Scotland are UK based. Overnight accommodation in the UK already attracts 20% VAT, one of the highest in Europe, and while the UK is ranked in the top five of 136 countries in terms of tourism capability and readiness, in terms of price-competitiveness the UK is listed a very poor 135th.
- Only about one-quarter of visitors actually stay overnight in Edinburgh – what about the vast majority that visit the city, but do not book accommodation and perhaps stay outwith the city and avoid any tourist tax, yet still place a burden on the capital’s services and infrastructure?
- The venues that will directly benefit from a tourist tax will have to include the tax in their entrance costs.
The consultation is open until December 2. Take part at: https://consult.gov.scot/local-government-and-communities/visitor-levy/