Scottish Government called on to introduce five-night maximum visitor levy

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Scottish Government called on to introduce five-night maximum visitor levy

Related tags Visitor levy Scotland ukhospitality

Politicians have been urged to agree a cap on the number of nights a visitor levy can be charged to avoid falling levels of tourism in Scotland.

In its response to the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee’s consultation on the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill, UKHospitality Scotland says a cap would mitigate the impact a levy would have on Scotland’s appeal as a leading visitor destination.

UKHospitality Scotland has called for a limit on the number of nights that can be charged to be set at five nights in the same accommodation.

In May the Scottish Parliament published a bill giving councils the power to impose a levy on overnight accommodation, including hotels, self-catering properties and camp sites. Rates would be set by individual councils.

The move could lead to a decline in visitor numbers to some of Scotland's main tourist cities, which will have an impact on the hospitality sector in the country across the board.

“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,” says UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson.

“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.”
UKHospitality Scotland is calling for 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.

It is also asking that businesses be reimbursed, from the levy, for their costs in implementing and administering the scheme and that these costs are considered as part of cost-benefit analysis, as part of a levy’s introduction, and recognised as having an impact on business investment.

It also says it is ‘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.
“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,” adds Thompson.
“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 ring fencing net revenue for tourism activities and stipulate that provision be made for businesses to recover their costs from implementing a visitor levy scheme."

In April this year Manchester announced it was introducing a 'tourist tax' where an extra £1 is added onto the fee on a stay per night at a hotel room or other accommodation.

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