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Edinburgh reveals plans for a £2-per-night tourist tax

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 09/01/2019 Greg Dickinson
Scotland © Getty Scotland

Visitors to Edinburgh may soon have to pay an additional £2 per person, per night after the city council today announced that its draft proposal for a tourist tax has won “overwhelming support”.

In a public consultation the City of Edinburgh Council found that 85 per cent of 2,500 respondents expressed strong support for the introduction of a tourist tax in the city.

             

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The Council’s plan proposes a 2 per cent charge or a £2 per room, per night charge on all forms of accommodation, including short-term lets up to seven nights. The Council predicts that this model could raise up to £14.6m per year.

Commenting on the figures, City of Edinburgh Council Leader Adam McVey said: “Once again, we are finding that there is a huge swell of support for a tourist tax in Edinburgh with residents and all types of business backing a scheme that is fair, sustainable and one which would be reinvested into the ongoing success of our tourism and hospitality industry and the services which matter most to local people.

© Getty

“A majority of businesses agree the vibrancy of our industry wouldn’t be threatened by a small levy but would benefit from the additional investment. Interestingly, this includes more than half of accommodation providers, dispelling fears in certain quarters that the industry wouldn’t support a TVL [Transient Visitor Levy].”

The council’s research found that 72 per cent agreed with the £2 or 2 per cent cap, although 19 per cent felt that this is too low. Only 9 per cent disagreed with the visitor levy entirely.

Some critics have argued that a tourist tax could deter visitors, although John Donnelly of Marketing Edinburgh says that this is not the case. He said: “Combined with Marketing Edinburgh’s own independent research - which found that 88 per cent of summer visitors would still come to Edinburgh if a £2 per room, per night charge were in place and that 59 per cent of residents are in favour – the results are conclusive. A transient visitor levy is a widely supported means of keeping the city at its best for residents, visitors and businesses alike.”

'Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, United Kingdom' © Getty 'Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, United Kingdom'

One group campaigning against the tourist tax is the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), who yesterday warned the Scottish Government against introducing the tourist tax. In an email to its members, the STA said: “Edinburgh is one of the few European cities in decline. Glasgow figures are showing the same trend. There is a misconception of a buoyant industry.

"We are simply at the bottom of the pile when it comes to competing on price against other global destinations," STA said, adding: "Where would we sit in relation to price competitiveness if we introduced another tax on the international visitor, and indeed our domestic tourists?

"A tourism tax could negatively impact businesses that rely on the tourism economy by reducing visitor spending right across the industry – in pubs, restaurants, shops, cafes, visitor attractions and entertainment venues."

The Scottish government has long argued against allowing councils to implement tourist taxes, although Nicola Sturgeon signalled a possible change of direction last year when she said the issue requires “very careful consideration”.

The Council will now develop a final proposal on how it hopes to implement a tourist tax, which will then be passed on to the Scottish Government for consideration.

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