News / Press release /

Visitor Levy Bill needs to address business-critical issues

Claire Williams

Head of Content and Marketing

Business preparation and cost recovery need to be set in legislation, UKHospitality said as Visitor Levy Committee report is published.

UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director Leon Thompson said: “The introduction of the Visitor Levy will represent a huge change for both hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses, as well as local authorities, so it is essential that the Scottish Parliament properly scrutinises the legislation.

“Given the scale of change this tax will bring, to businesses and customers, it’s very concerning that the Local Government, Planning and Housing Committee has today concluded that the 18-month period set aside for businesses to prepare could be reduced to 12-months. That is simply not long enough. Accommodation providers will need maximum time to prepare their systems, teams and customers for this change.

“The Visitor Levy will come with significant costs to businesses implementing new, or upgrading existing IT and payment systems, as well as identifying dedicated human resource to manage the charge. There is also the issue of businesses paying commission on bookings and credit card transactions. As things stand these are to be borne by businesses, whilst councils look to recover their costs. The legislation must provide for businesses to recoup expenses associated with administering the scheme, on behalf of local authorities.

“Furthermore, the report pushes expectation to resolve outstanding issues onto the Expert Working Group and the guidance that will be created. This is not good enough, as the guidance will not be statutory, leading to a variety of approaches in implementing this tax in different parts of the country.

“It appears that business-critical issues raised during the consultation and at the Committee’s evidence sessions are being swept under the carpet. If we are to learn lessons from previous failed initiatives, like the Deposit Return Scheme, all these issues must be resolved in legislation. That is the only way to provide certainty to businesses.”