Scotland talks about tourist tax

Published on : Saturday, November 30, 2019

The initiation is in response to the rising numbers of visitors, with more than 1.2m overseas visitors to Scotland in 2018 compared to 2011.

 

There has been major rise in both overnight and day visitors in some particular parts of Scotland, like Edinburgh and some sections of the Highlands, which is pressurizing the local environment and on activities that preserve as well as enhance the tourist experience.

 

To quote Kate Forbes, minister for public finance and digital economy, “Creating a discretionary power to enable local authorities to apply a levy on visitors is a means of allowing local authorities to respond to local circumstances more effectively whilst also allowing local tourism offers to be enhanced.”

 

“To give local authorities this power and create a new local tax requires an Act of the Scottish parliament. This consultation paper therefore seeks views on a broad proposition of enabling local authorities to choose to apply a levy on visitors staying overnight.”
Forbes accepted that ‘there are some important choices to make, especially in relation to the balance between national consistency and local autonomy.’

 

‘As we envisage the levy would be collected by accommodation providers, this consultation seeks views on how the impact on individual businesses might be minimised.’

 

When Edinburgh advised in introducing a tourist tax in 2018, tourism authorities expressed concerns that such a tax could have negative effects on individual accommodation and supply chain businesses and on the competitiveness of the wider tourism sector across Scotland.

 

Tourism experts emphasized many issues, like rising wages, input costs and existing taxes, mainly VAT on accommodation charged on holiday accommodation at the standard rate of 20%, higher than in most EU countries.

 

The consultation carefully thought on the introduction of a ‘transient visitor levy’, which include the best choice of name for such a tax.

 

The broad options are recognized as a flat rate per person per night; a flat rate per room per night; a percentage of accommodation charge; or a flat rate per night dependent on accommodation type and quality.

 

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