Tourism industry fury as Scottish Government abandons APD manifesto pledge
The Scottish Tourism Alliance, the representative body for Scotland’s tourism industry has described the Scottish Government’s announcement that it will not proceed with its promise to cut APD by at least 50% as a significant blow to the future growth and sustainability of the sector.
Scotland’s tourism industry is committed to and already playing an active role in delivering sustainable solutions in response to the climate change challenges in front of us. The STA is also supportive of policy that is sensible and well balanced to ensure that Scotland delivers its commitment to tackling the current climate emergency, however abandoning policy to reduce APD in its entirety is in our view, a harmful political decision and one that will significantly inhibit Scotland’s economic growth potential.
As we develop our future tourism strategy we are very conscious of the ever increasing need to attract visitors from further afield and shift the current mix of c75% domestic visitor market reliance. It is already proven that these new and growing international audiences are the highest spenders, especially visitors from long haul destinations to Scotland. Growing our international market is even more important as we approach our EU exit date; Scotland can no longer rely on the European and domestic market to grow a healthy visitor economy, one which is currently constrained.
Also being as attractive as possible for international investment and open, competitive and accessible in this way is crucial for the long-term growth of Scotland’s wider economy as all communities benefit from tourism and many rely on it.
The Scottish Government committed to cutting APD by 50% during this term in office, this has been delayed three times and that promise now abandoned. This policy would have been a gamechanger for Scotland’s tourism industry and a huge boost to our economy and indeed public finance and employment. This, coupled with the recent agreement to legislate to introduce a tourism tax causes huge concern throughout the industry.
The Scottish Tourism Alliance has requested a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, the Finance Secretary and Scotland’s First Minister to discuss what additional support for the sector can be made available at this point and to communicate the reality of our current trading conditions, which for many in the sector is not as “thriving” as Mr Mackay suggests.