Ideas for industry

Tax changes ‘may help restart tourism sector’

Malcolm Roughead

Malcolm Roughead: need to be creative

Tax changes and new ticketing technology could help stimulate activity in the devastated tourism sector, according to an industry leader.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said reducing Air Passenger Duty (known as air departure tax in Scotland) should be considered. He also suggested changes to VAT.

Speaking during a webinar yesterday, Mr Roughead offered ideas for a new Scottish Government advisory group led by former banker Benny Higgins.

Those who joined the virtual event, organised by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, heard that Mr Higgins was seeking the thoughts of business leaders to inform a long term recovery plan. He has asked for submissions by the end of June.

Mr Roughead said it was possible to be “creative” with APD. “The EU insists you have it but you could reduced it and actually zero-rate it,” he said.

Benny Higgins

Benny Higgins: seeking ideas (pic: Terry Murden)

He also spoke of introducing new ticketing technology similar to London’s Oyster card that would allow visitors to use one ticket across a number of transport options.

On the wider issues facing tourism, he said the initial responses detected by the industry were a preference for rural destinations, islands and self-catering accommodation.

These reflected concerns over being among large numbers of people and may signal a struggle for hotels and B&Bs to attract tourists.

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VisitScotland fund

VisitScotland has launched the Tourism Destination and Sector Support Fund to support those organisations which have lost income from membership subscriptions. 

The fund, which will be a one-off  programme, will be open to all groups that have a membership base made up of entirely or predominantly tourism businesses and will award up to 50% of membership income that is under threat due to Coronavirus. 

More than £400,000 will be available to applicants and interested groups can apply for the fund by completing a simple form. Full details on the fund’s guidelines and application form are available on

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