Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh tourist tax could be £2 per room, per night

Edinburgh festival crowds
Image caption Research found that a small nightly charge would not deter visitors from going to Edinburgh

Edinburgh City Council plans to launch a consultation on its plans to charge a tourist tax of £2 per room, per night.

It said the tax would raise an extra £11m a year, to be spent on growing tourism and managing its impact.

The council has published details of its proposals for a Transient Visitor Levy ahead of the consultation that will last until the end of the year.

Opponents have attacked the plans and claim there has been no "meaningful engagement" with the tourism industry.

The local authority is suggesting a year-round charge of either 2% or £2 per room, per night, for all types of accommodation.

Voiced concern

This would include short-term lets and would be capped at seven nights.

Edinburgh is at the forefront of a push from many of Scotland's local authorities to be given power by ministers to introduce the visitor's levy.

Image copyright Getty Images

The Scottish government has said it would not consider it unless the long-term interests of the industry were fully recognised.

Respondents to the consultation will also be asked about the size of the charge, what types of accommodation should be covered, whether it should be seasonal or all-year-round and whether it should be capped.

The council also wants people to give their views on priorities for how the additional money would be spent.

Key principles for the tax are:

  • Fair to industry, residents and tourists
  • Simple to understand and run
  • Administratively efficient and difficult to avoid
  • To raise additional income and be transparently invested
  • Have transparent governance and accountability

Council leader Adam McVey said: "Our work over the summer has focused on key stakeholders, particularly those in the hospitality trade, and we are continuing to engage with them on the details of what an Edinburgh scheme could reasonably look like and options for implementing it.

"Public consultation will allow for a wider and transparent debate over important details with everyone who has a view and we believe this approach is an important component of gaining trust and support for the scheme."

However, tourism sector bosses under the banner of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said the level of engagement had been inadequate.

Necessary powers

In a statement, they said: "The Scottish Tourism Alliance is disappointed that Edinburgh City Council has proceeded to launch a consultation on its plans to charge a tourist tax of £2 per room, per night, having had no formal or meaningful engagement with Scotland's tourism industry to date.

"The Scottish government has been consistent in its position that it has no plans for a tax on tourists and that the interests of the hospitality and tourism industry must be fully taken into account through consultation."

Image copyright Getty Images

The STA said it was pushing for a formal consultation at a national level, initiated by the Scottish government, on the idea of a tourist tax.

Research, commissioned by Marketing Edinburgh, which saw 519 interviews with Edinburgh residents and 561 interviews with paying overnight visitors - 10% from Scotland, 35% from elsewhere in the UK and 56% overseas - found broad support for the move.

The research found that a small nightly charge would not deter visitors from going to Edinburgh and that residents were supportive of the idea.

All of Scotland's 31 other local authorities have backed calls for the powers necessary to implement a TVL.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites