Calls to let councils implement a ‘tourist tax’

Monica Lennon

Scottish Labour has urged the Scottish Government to take steps to introduce a tourist tax in Scotland after COSLA unanimously backed the plans.

Monica Lennon MSP has written to Communities Minister Angela Constance, calling on her to give local councils the ability to introduce a tourist tax.

In her letter, she wrote: “On Friday, COSLA unanimously backed calls for local authorities to be empowered to introduce tourist taxes. I am writing to urge you to support their position and advise your Cabinet colleagues to give local councils the ability to introduce a tourist tax.

“Our local communities are in serious need of additional funding. Cuts to local authorities in this year’s budget mean extremely difficult choices ahead. Those hit hardest by cuts are the poorest groups who are more reliant on a range of public services.

“We urgently need to look at new ways for local authorities to raise funds, including a tourist tax.

“I am proud of our world famous cities and countryside and the large number of people they attract. A welcoming and vibrant local community makes a place what it is. Our communities must be supported and invested in to ensure Scotland’s tourism industry continues to flourish. I believe councils, who understand their local industry and area, should have the choice to ask visitors for a bit more to make sure local services are properly funded.

“Just this morning, the UK hotel market report by property advisor GVA showed that hotels in Scotland have delivered major growth with Edinburgh achieving a higher hotel room occupancy rate than any other major city in the UK. Inverness also saw occupancy increase and Glasgow’s revenue per available room grew by 5.2%. Edinburgh Council has forecast that a tourist tax could raise as much as £15 million a year.

“Glasgow and Edinburgh airports both declared 2017 a record year for passenger numbers and the latest VisitScotland statistics show that in the first nine months of 2017, international tourist trips to Scotland increased by 14.6% to 1.26 million.

“It is clear that Scotland’s tourist industry is flourishing, which is brilliant to see. We must now start giving back to the communities that have made it such a success.”

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