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Scots cities hit hard

Call to scrap tourist tax as hotels face slow recovery

Huxley pub and Caledonian

Hotels in the capital will be slow to recover, says report (pic: Terry Murden)

Plans for a tourist tax must be scrapped to avoid further delaying the recovery of the hotels and hospitality sector, says a real estate company.

Colliers International makes the call as its new report on hotels show that Edinburgh, Glasgow and London are likely to be among the 10 slowest to recover from the impact of the lockdown. Oxford, Cambridge and Stratford Upon Avon are also likely to see a slow return to health.

Colliers’ first COVID-19 Recovery Hotels Index of 35 destinations notes that Glasgow, tied in 27th place with Manchester, has traditionally attracted a significant number of international travellers as a leading conference destination, recording the highest volume of delegates across Scotland.

The Scottish Event Campus, which includes the SSE Hydro Arena, is Scotland’s largest public exhibition and conference venue and a key generator of hotel demand. All of this business in the city has been halted by the lockdown and will take time to return.

Edinburgh is expected to take even longer to recover, placed 30th on the list as it not only hosts conferences but is known as the world’s leading festival city.

Marc Finney, head of hotels & resorts consulting at Colliers International, said: “The bottom ten locations in the COVID-19 Recovery Hotels Index are heavily reliant on overseas visitors and meetings, incentives, conference and events (MICE) business.

“It’s therefore no surprise that restrictions on air travel, quarantine measures and gatherings of large groups could affect these markets well into 2021. 

“But for hotel investors who have deeper pockets and the patience to wait for the market to return, clearly cities such as London, Oxford and Edinburgh remain of great interest.”

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Given the detrimental impact of COVID-19 on the hotel business in Edinburgh in particular, Mr Finney is calling for plans for a tourist tax to be shelved and for the Scottish Government and councils to focus on supporting the sector.

He warned: “The introduction of the transient visitor levy, or tourist tax, would inevitably slow Scotland’s recovery from the effects of the coronavirus lockdown.

“We are calling on policy makers to recognise the importance of the hotel and hospitality sector to the whole Scottish economy by formally taking the threat of the tax off the table. 

“The current crisis has emphasised just how important tourism is to the Scottish economy and it needs the support of the government and local authorities if it is to recover.”

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