Division over levy plan
Edinburgh council to unveil £15m tourist tax
There are fears that a tourist tax will deter visitors (photo by Terry Murden)
Edinburgh is expected to become the first local authority in Britain to impose a tax on tourists.
The city council says it would raise £15m a year which would help pay for the festivals and other events.
Opponents say it may deter visitors and the onus for collection would be put on hotels.
Council leader Adam McVey said a consultation exercise would be launched among tourism businesses.
He said: “We have been asking for this for at least six years and getting not very far. Our approach this time is different. It’s more professional and hopefully that will carry the day.
“We need to get the message across that in order to sustain the most thriving hospitality sector per head in the world, probably we need to continue to invest in the things that make it a success story.”
He added that the tourist tax was a part of the programme agreed by the SNP-Labour coalition after the local elections last May.
The plan was revealed as one of the priorities for the city for the next six months.
Some tourism businesses have expressed their concern about the impact of a tourist tax.
Steve Spalding, chief executive of Timberbush Tours, believes any new tax will be punitive for tourists and may put people off visiting the city.
Mr Spalding said: “Our cities can be expensive enough. However, a “tourist tax” goes further. It is parochial and whilst it may temper demand, I believe it would be perceived as negative and far from welcoming.
“Tourists flying into Edinburgh already pay Airport Passenger Duty and a Tourist Tax simply overburdens them with more local costs to be paid to government.
“We want to see our hotels, restaurants and visitor attractions busy with tourists having a welcoming Scottish experience, but many may think twice about starting their holiday in Edinburgh if this tax is imposed.
“Our industry along with organisations such as Visit Scotland works very hard promoting Scotland as a destination – a tourist tax would be at odds with that strategy. I hope there is a re-think on this proposal.”