Scots Gov To Look At Tourist Tax

1 October 2018, 19:19 | Updated: 1 October 2018, 19:20


Nicola Sturgeon has announced a Scottish Government consultation will be held on a tourist tax.

The First Minister made the announcement during a speech at the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) annual conference in Edinburgh.

She said the government believes the issue requires "careful consideration".

"We will be accepting the STA's call for an objective process of consultation - involving the STA, Cosla and other key partners - which will examine in detail the arguments for and against a tourism tax," she said.

"We are determined that all voices will be heard and that the details of the process will be properly set out shortly."

The STA said in a statement: "The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) welcomes the First Minister's announcement that a formal stakeholder consultation into the viability of a tourism tax is imminent and will take into account the interests of Scotland's tourism and hospitality industry.

"The STA reiterated its request to the Scottish Government last week that an objective, well-informed national debate takes place before any decisions are made on granting local authorities the power to raise additional funds via a transient visitor levy."

The move comes as the Scottish Government's opposition to tourism tax appears to be softening.

Current government policy does not support a tax, at odds with the SNP leader of Edinburgh City Council Adam McVey, who has been at the head of plans to make tourists pay to boost public services.

His administration has put forward proposals for £2 a night tourist tax in Edinburgh, which is projected to raise around £11 million a year.

Facing criticism from Labour on her government's tourist tax opposition, Ms Sturgeon said previously the issue would be under consideration ahead of the budget.

She said the government would listen to voices from all sides of the debate on the issue, including criticism from parts of the tourism industry, before making a decision.

Opposition parties are split on the idea of a tax, which is backed by the Greens and Labour but opposed by the Conservatives.

Scottish Conservative tourism spokeswoman Rachael Hamilton said the tax could cost more to administer than it would generate but her Labour counterpart Monica Lennon said it "isn't credible" adding a few pounds to hotel bills would put the industry at risk.

Scottish Greens local government spokesman Andy Wightman said: "Scottish Greens have prevented cuts to councils in the last two budgets but we've given fair warning that we cannot discuss the next budget unless we see meaningful steps from the Government on fairer funding for local services.

"A tourist tax is the very least of the steps that need to be taken to overhaul local government finance."