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06/09/2019

Scottish Government Programme for Government

Scottish Government Programme for Government

Protecting Scotland’s Future, the Government’s Programme for Scotland 2019-2020

Scottish Government have issued the Programme for Government and here are the main points of relevance: Programme for Government:

  • Tourist Tax: the Scottish Government will introduce a Transient Visitor Levy Bill to create a discretionary power for local authorities to apply a tax or levy on overnight visitor stays. The decision to implement any tax or levy created will be at the discretion of individual local authorities and receipts will be to fund local authority expenditure on tourism. The consultation on the principles of this levy will begin “shortly”, prior to introducing legislation in 2020.
  • Short-Term Lets: The Programme for Government document mentioned the Scottish Government’s action to tackle issues with short-term lets in some areas: “To help councils balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism concerns, we have consulted on the regulatory powers they need and will announce our plans later this year.”
  • Tourism Strategy: the Scottish Government will launch its new Tourism Strategy “in the coming months”.
  • Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund: the Scottish Government will extend this Fund, making another £3m available for projects in 2020-21.

STA’s Response to the Programme for Government

The Scottish Tourism Alliance submitted a number of asks on behalf of Scotland’s tourism industry to the Cabinet Secretary in June and are most encouraged to see the majority of those asks referenced in Programme for Government, specifically, that the Scottish Government will provide a package of support for the tourism sector to minimise the burden of regulation, support the growth of a skilled, professional and inclusive workforce and help the industry to deliver high quality and memorable experiences for visitors.

The Scottish Government’s recognition that Scotland’s tourism industry is an important contributor to the Scottish economy, supporting over 200,000 jobs along with the announcement of the extension of the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund send positive messages to our industry at a time when the wider economic challenges of Brexit compounded by the continued rising costs of doing business are being keenly felt.

We are however disappointed that the Scottish Government’s plans around the introduction of a tourist tax in Scotland were part of what seems to be part of an otherwise supportive programme for our industry with a positive, encouraging tone.

The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019 published by the World Economic Forum this week shows that the UK has now fallen to 140 out of 140 countries on price competitiveness and has dropped from fifth to sixth place in this year’s overall ranking as a result.  Conditions cannot show more clearly that this is not the time for local authorities to consider implementing a tourist tax which could seriously impact on Scotland’s attractiveness and positioning within the global market and harm local economies and communities.

It is however somewhat encouraging for our industry to see explicit reference to the fact that receipts from a tourist tax will be to fund local authority expenditure on tourism in the Programme for Government.

The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019 published by the World Economic Forum this week shows that the UK has now fallen to 140 out of 140 countries on price competitiveness and has dropped from fifth to sixth place in this year’s overall ranking as a result.
 
Read the report in full here:

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