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City of Edinburgh Council Tourism Tax Consultation

Results from the public consultation on the introduction of a tourism tax in Edinburgh have now been released.

In terms of the headline statistics:

  • Overall, 85% of the 2,500 respondents backed the Council’s plans on TVL
  • Nine-in-ten (91%) of residents supported the introduction of a TVL
  • More than half (51%) of accommodation providers support the introduction of a levy
  • A majority of respondents (72%) agreed that the Edinburgh TVL should be set at £2 or 2% of the cost of accommodation.

More background information, and comment from Cllr Adam McVey, is available here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-46797446

In terms of the next steps, the final proposal from City of Edinburgh Council on the TVL will be developed for approval by councillors in February 2019, before being sent to the Scottish Government.

Scottish Tourism Alliance responded to the publication of City of Edinburgh Council Tourist Tax Consultation results:

Today’s announcement (9th January) from the City of Edinburgh Council in response to the results of the recent tourism tax consultation is in our view ambiguous in its claims, specifically with reference to the ‘significant’ support from accommodation providers in Edinburgh.

Out of the 2560 responses to the consultation, just 17% were from all businesses types, both within and outside Edinburgh which is very low considering the importance of the tourism economy tourism to the majority of businesses within Edinburgh, and only 7% of these were from Edinburgh accommodation providers.  78% of respondents were from Edinburgh residents and just 3% were tourists.

Figures show that only 87 Edinburgh accommodation providers have indicated strong support for a Transient Visitor Levy within the consultation and it is unclear from the figures released by the City of Edinburgh Council what type of accommodation providers these are.  This number represents less than 5% of all tourism businesses in Edinburgh (1785).

Out of the 435 total number of businesses that responded to the consultation, it is unclear what sectors or areas all of these businesses are in, for example, how many of the 162 ‘Other Edinburgh business including visitor attractions’ are actually visitor attractions, retail businesses or other business that  directly benefit from tourism spend?

Greater transparency is required and we will be seeking clarity from Edinburgh City Council to better understand the results of the survey and pose questions that we and other member trade associations have as a result of today’s announcement.

Garry Clark, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) development manager for the East of Scotland, said: “The City of Edinburgh Council survey is an interesting contribution to the ongoing debate in the capital on the merits and drawbacks of a tax on overnight guests to our city. Edinburgh businesses will want to digest these consultation results but many may ask how it addresses evidence suggesting that even a 3 per cent drop in Edinburgh’s visitor numbers could result in a £42m drop in the benefits of tourism to the city.

“As the Council doggedly pursues these proposals, businesses will reasonably expect detail on which firms would have to administer such a tax and what say they would have over how revenues were spent. All of this must also be viewed from the context of how such a tax would impact the tourism industry in Scotland as a whole. Ultimately, tourism is currently a Scottish success story – and we must not do anything to undermine this vital industry.”

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