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STA Local Visitor Levy Manifesto

Ahead of the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce legislation that will give local authorities the power to introduce a visitor levy, as the recognised overarching tourism body for Scotland, the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) has produced a Local Visitor Levy Manifesto with Recommendations.

The Manifesto was developed with STA’s Council and Board – which includes widespread representation from across the tourism, hospitality, supply, and business sectors – and in consultation with our Destination Forum Group.

In the event that visitor levy legislation is introduced, the tourism industry is committed to working closely alongside the Scottish Government and local authorities to ensure that it is executed in the most effective way and used as a force for good, with net revenue raised reinvested in local tourism priorities that contribute to making Scotland a world leader in 21st century tourism.

It is crucial that there is proper scrutiny, impact assessment and analysis ahead of the legislative process getting underway, with a key role for the newly formed Regulatory Joint Taskforce in considering the concerns from sectors around the significant cost or operational impacts of introducing the power to charge a local visitor levy.

This must happen to secure widespread buy-in from all key stakeholders, particularly visitors who will have to pay a levy, businesses that will need to manage its collection, and local authorities dealing with its administration.

What must not happen is a repeat of the issues experienced concerning the introduction of the Short-Term Lets Licensing Scheme and Deposit Return Scheme. A consistent, national, cross-sectoral, and transparent approach is integral to its success.

We strongly believe that renewed consultation is needed with the tourism industry and proper financial costings undertaken before proceeding with introducing the proposed legislation.

We are inviting the Scottish Government to consider in detail and respond to the recommendations contained in our Manifesto, particularly providing clarity on whether VAT will be applied to a visitor levy and transparency about the unintended consequences this could create.

The introduction of a visitor levy must not have an inadvertent impact on businesses, which continue to undergo recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic and the current financial crisis.

Collectively, we must ensure that if a visitor levy is to be introduced, it should be done in a coordinated and clear way that places the enhancement of Scotland’s tourism offer at its heart.

Read the manifesto: Scottish Tourism Alliance – Local Visitor Levy Manifesto

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