The Scottish Government publishes ‘Tourism Tax’ legislation.
After years of debate, the Scottish Government published the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill on Thursday morning.
If supported by MSPs, local authorities can charge all accommodation options based on a percentage of the total cost.
Edinburgh City Council has already pledged to introduce the fee as soon as possible. The agency’s head said he was confident that paying a few extra pounds a day “wouldn’t stop anyone from coming to the best city in the world”.
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The government says any monies raised “must be reinvested locally in facilities and services essentially for or used by visitors to enhance the tourist experience and benefit local communities and their economies.”
According to the plans, councils must bring the levy for consultation, gathering input from communities, businesses and tourism organizations.
Part of this consultation will deal with the use of the revenue generated.
The tax was first promised by ministers in 2019 when then Treasury Secretary Derek Mackay added a pledge to consider the levy in his budget to secure Green Party support.
Presenting the bill at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, Finance Secretary Tom Arthur said: “Scotland is already a very popular tourist destination and the domestic and international visitors we welcome each year are having a significant and positive impact on the Scottish economy.”
“The power for local authorities to introduce a visitor charge is a tool that will provide additional resources to continue to attract visitors to Scotland.
“Around the world, levies are already being levied on visitors staying in paid accommodation, and it makes sense that local areas would require a small contribution from tourists to support and sustain visitors’ economies.”
“So far, the tourism industry, COSLA and other partners have made significant contributions to the bill and I look forward to continuing to work with them as the bill moves through Parliament.”
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Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), said the policy has long been controversial in the industry.
However, he said the sector is aware of the upcoming tax and will work with the Government to ensure it brings “the best possible outcome for Scottish tourism”.
He said: “Any revenue from a local authority that decides to introduce a visitor levy must be used to promote tourism, which as a sector brings significant economic benefits to the country and our communities.”
“The visitor levy must be seen as a force for good and not labeled as a ‘tourism tax’, which greatly damages Scotland’s reputation as a desirable tourist destination for both domestic and international visitors.
“The tourism and hotel industry wants to continue to work with the Scottish Government and local authorities to ensure the best possible outcome for Scottish tourism and ensure it contributes to our shared national goal of becoming the world leader in 21st century tourism. ”
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Edinburgh Councilor Cammy Day said “paying a few pounds more a day” would “stop nobody from coming to the best city in the world”.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, he added: “This levy is levied globally and has no impact on tourism anywhere.”
He insisted the fee would be “less than the price of a cup of coffee” for many visitors, adding: “It’s standard practice around the world.” Many, many major cities across Europe have had this for many, many many years.”