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Visitor levy cap essential to Scottish tourism competitiveness

Proposed plans, like Edinburgh’s, to impose a visitor levy of up to 7% will hit consumers in the pocket and highlights the need for a cap on charges.

In its response to the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee’s consultation on the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill, UKHospitality Scotland has urged politicians to agree a cap on the number of nights a levy can be charged. A cap would mitigate the impact a levy would have on Scotland’s appeal as a leading visitor destination.

Calling for changes

We’re also calling for:

  1. 1

    A limit on the number of nights that can be charged to be set at five nights in the same accommodation.

  2. 2

    A guaranteed commitment, within legislation, that revenue raised through a levy be exclusively used to develop, support or sustain tourism-related services and facilities used by visitors.

  3. 3

    Businesses to be reimbursed, from the levy, for their costs in implementing and administering the scheme.

  4. 4

    These costs to be considered as part of cost-benefit analysis, as part of a levy’s introduction, and recognised as having an impact on business investment.

  5. 5

    An absolute requirement for local authorities to consult with industry groups and businesses ahead of implementation and then regularly on progress, where a levy is introduced.

Our view

Our Scotland Executive Director, Leon Thompson, said: “Some of the proposals for the visitor levy are incredibly worrying, with major implications for competitiveness and costs for our businesses charged with collecting and administering the scheme.

“With no upper limit on the charge or ring-fencing of funds in legislation, there is a real risk that the introduction of a levy could see the costs to visitors spiral, reduce investment by accommodation businesses and hit the wider visitor economy.

Not only will visitors be paying substantially more in destinations like Edinburgh under current proposals, but businesses may also see a decline in visitor numbers as a consequence.

“It is essential that as MSPs scrutinise the Bill they respond to the very real concerns of our businesses, recommend the introduction of a cap, ensure that the Bill provides certainty on ringfencing net revenue for tourism activities and stipulate that provision be made for businesses to recover their costs from implementing a visitor levy scheme.”