The Bill, if passed by the Parliament, will give local authorities the power to introduce a visitor levy in all or part of their area if they wish to do so. Under the Bill any funding raised by a visitor levy will, once administrative costs have been deducted, be required to be spent on developing, supporting, and sustaining facilities and services which are substantially for or used by persons visiting for leisure purposes the area where a visitor levy is charged. The Bill will also require a local authority to consult with local communities, tourism businesses, and tourism organisations before it introduces a visitor levy.
Alongside introducing the Bill the Scottish Government has announced the establishment of an Expert Group, facilitated by Visit Scotland. This will bring together local government and tourism industry bodies to develop definitive Guidance and Best Practice for local authorities in using this new discretionary power.
Further details of the Bill are available on the Scottish Parliament website at:
The Scottish Government will continue to engage with the tourism industry, local government, and other groups as the Bill progresses through Parliament.
Scottish Tourism response to introduction of Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament
Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said:
Proposals to introduce a visitor levy in Scotland have been contentious for the tourism sector for a number of years and for many reasons. We have accepted that this is a policy which will be implemented within the next three years and we welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to adopt key recommendations which have been put forward formally by the tourism and hospitality industry.
The Scottish Tourism Alliance welcomes the fact that the Bill supports our ask that revenue raised from a Visitor Levy must be spent on enhancing Scotland’s tourism economy.
“Following on from the publication of the Scottish Tourism Alliance’s Local Visitor Levy Manifesto in January this year, developed in close consultation with Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry, we have been working with Scottish Government to ensure that the Visitor Levy legislation introduced to the Scottish Parliament protects and enhances our competitiveness as a global tourist destination.”
“All income raised by any local authority that decides to proceed in implementing a Visitor Levy must be used to enhance tourism, which as a sector delivers significant economic benefits for the nation and our communities. The Visitor Levy must be viewed as a force for good, rather than being labelled as a ‘tourism tax’, which is extremely damaging for Scotland’s reputation as a desirable tourist destination to domestic and international visitors.”
“The tourism and hospitality industry are keen to continue working with the Scottish Government and local authorities to ensure the best possible outcome for Scottish tourism, ensuring that it contributes to our shared national ambition to become the world leader in 21st century tourism.”
“The Scottish Government has also adopted our recommendation to establish a working group, announcing that an expert group will be established to ensure best practice in how a local authority implements a Visitor Levy. Transparency, stakeholder engagement and accountability will be key in how the levy is deployed.
“The Scottish Tourism Alliance will continue to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that the levy’s introduction does not have unintended consequences for tourism and hospitality businesses, and it is of the utmost importance that there is time to prepare and establish structures for collection of a levy.”
“We must get this right for visitors, businesses, communities, and local authorities, while protecting Scotland’s global image as a must-visit destination.
“The introduction of the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill presents an important opportunity as part of the Scottish Government’s reset and commitment to a New Deal for Business, to set an example on how policy development and early engagement with business can result in better regulation.
“We, and our industry colleagues will continue to seek to ensure that the legislation takes account of our manifesto recommendations in all stages of its development, and that if introduced by local authorities the levy is deployed in a clear and consistent manner to deliver the best possible outcome for Scottish tourism.”
Fiona Campbell, CEO of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said:
“The visitor levy plans arrive at a time as our sector is already being hit with a never-ending juggernaut of regulation when the government and industry should instead be working together to reduce the burden on small businesses to support a sustainable and prosperous future for Scottish tourism.
Businesses have endured a global pandemic and are now being squeezed by a cost-of-living crisis. These proposals may add more risk and uncertainty to a sector where the domestic market makes up 70% of those holidaying in Scotland.
Our message to the Scottish Government is simple: if you chose to do this, do it right. During challenging times, Scottish businesses simply cannot afford a repeat of the unintended consequences that have unfolded with the onerous short-term let licensing scheme.”
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