Edinburgh Councillors Back Proposed Tourist Tax

7 February 2019, 13:24 | Updated: 7 February 2019, 13:32


Edinburgh is one step closer to becoming the first city in the UK to introduce a tourist tax after the move was approved by councillors.

Plans for the transient visitor levy (TVL) include a £2 per night room charge, an exemption for campsites, a cap of seven consecutive nights and investing an estimated £14.6 million every year.

Councillors backed the plans by 43 votes to 15 and the local authority will now put its recommendations to ministers and MSPs to have the final say.

Council leader Adam McVey said: "We have led this debate nationally.

"We have led it as this administration, we have led it as this council.

"My expectation is that this will be a locally-run, collected and set tax.

"It will be additional to other revenues. My mind is absolutely clear - this is additional to our resources in this city."

The £2 charge is regarded as a better approach than a percentage charge, while the seven-night cap is designed to protect seasonal and festival workers in the city for extended periods of time.

Edinburgh would follow in the footsteps of European cities such as Paris and Barcelona, while Bath and Oxford councils have also called for powers to charge visitors.

A recent public consultation indicated more than half (51%) of accommodation providers and 91% of residents supported the introduction of a TVL.

The council estimates the proposals could raise between £11.6 million and £14.6 million per year.

Opposition to the TVL in Edinburgh has come from the organisations such as UK Hospitality (UKH), claiming it would be bad for price-competitiveness.

UKH previously estimated the annual negative economic impact from the imposition of a TVL at £2 per room, per night, will be £175million to £200million in Scotland - £44million to £94million in Edinburgh.

The Conservative group sought to amend the motion, raising concerns over how the money might impact block grants and the fact the levy is set at a flat rate.

Tory members also wanted assurances any extra funds would not impact how they are allocated resources in future.

Councillor Iain Whyte said: "For me, the most important bit is whether this will be additional money.

"We have got to sort that out. This is a muddled policy, it's putting the cart before the horse."

The Scottish budget was approved on January 31 which set out that ministers will legislate to allow local authorities to introduce a tourist tax on hotel stays.