Fresh call for Edinburgh 'tourist tax'

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Transform Scotland has made a fresh call for a tourist tax to be introduced in Edinburgh.

The Scottish government has been carrying out a public consultation on the use of a Transient Visitor Levy (TVL).

The City of Edinburgh Council has said it would impose a £2 per night room charge fee if allowed.

A TVL set at this level has the potential to raise £13.6m per annum in the city.

Transform Scotland, a sustainable transport charity, said it believed the move would have the backing of Edinburgh residents.

It carried out an online survey of 320 residents which found 78% of respondents believed a Transient Visitor Levy (TVL) would protect Edinburgh.

They also thought it would manage tourism around the country.

Respondents to the poll favoured using revenue to invest in the city's infrastructure, including improvements to streets and public transport.

image captionEdinburgh sees a huge surge of visitors every summer for its festivals

Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said: "There is global concern about the impacts of tourism, from fuelling the growth in aviation emissions, to the impacts that large tourist volumes have on fragile historic environments and ecosystems.

"The volume of tourism is having severe impacts on Scotland's transport system. During Edinburgh's festivals, our bus network now routinely grinds to a halt. So it's clear that something needs to be done to tackle the impacts of tourism in Scotland.

"Our report takes forward the debate on the Edinburgh TVL proposal by presenting additional public opinion on how the revenue from the scheme should be invested.

"We believe that a significant proportion of the TVL revenue should be invested in improving the City Centre public realm and in supporting public transport services."

'Sustainable tourism'

Adam McVey, City of Edinburgh Council leader, said: "Time after time, the evidence points to strong and growing support for a visitor levy in Edinburgh and this latest poll backs up our own survey results.

"I agree that revenue raised by a levy should be re-invested into managing and supporting sustainable tourism and its impacts to the benefit of our residents.

"That's something we'll fully map out with those in the industry, our partners and resident groups."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We are committed to maintaining and enhancing the tourism sector's economic, social and environmental contributions, as well as empowering communities by devolving more power to local levels.

"The Transient Visitor Levy (TVL) would not be a national levy - rather it would be for individual local authorities to decide whether or not to apply a charge if they consider it appropriate for local circumstances, with any revenues being spent on tourism-related activities."

The consultation on the tax closed at midnight on Monday.

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