UKHospitality: tourist tax could cost Scotland £175m

UKHospitality has warned that a tourist tax could cost Scotland about £175 million in lost business, and potentially £45 million in Edinburgh.

Willie Macleod, executive director of the trade association, issued the warning as he spoke to the Scottish Parliament’s culture, tourism, Europe and external affairs committee about the efforts of local authorities to introduce a transient visitor levy.

Initial calculations by UKHospitality’s economic adviser suggest Scotland could be at a significant economic disadvantage as a result of a tax being implemented, with Edinburgh alone being more than three times worse off should a £2 a night levy be introduced across the country.

Macleod said: “This far outweighs the financial benefits of an £11 million revenue that City of Edinburgh Council anticipates will be raised from a £2 a night tax. Critically, the disadvantages would be far greater than the advantages.”

The committee session came after the First Minister’s announcement on Monday at the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) conference in Edinburgh that a national consultation on the idea could be considered.

Macleod added: “UKHospitality remains stridently opposed to the introduction of any tourist tax. Scotland’s hospitality and tourism industry is already a major contributor to the economy and the tax is opposed by a wide spectrum of tourism businesses, not just within the accommodation sector.”