Edinburgh tourist tax: 69% of firms in favour

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce has said its research reveals that 69% of the city’s businesses are in favour of a tourist tax.

This figure increased to 79% when businesses were asked if they would be in favour of a levy ring-fenced for infrastructure investment.

The chamber questioned 200 businesses and organisations across a range of industries including hospitality, financial services, creative industries and transport.

Support varied from 50% of hospitality operators asked to 81% of financial services and 93% of third-sector organisations.

However, 87% of respondents said they would like the option to review any levy after a set period of time.

Liz McAreavey, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “The potential introduction of a Transient Visitor Levy (TVL) in Edinburgh is one of the most significant issues being discussed in our city and it is only right that business has its say. After an extensive consultation with our members, we have found broad support for the principle of a levy, which increases further if funds were dedicated to improving the city’s infrastructure.

“We look forward to seeing the City of Edinburgh Council’s proposals for the use of funds raised by a TVL and we remain committed to improving the environment for the businesses that serve as the backbone of our local economy. We will be submitting to the Scottish government’s consultation, articulating our own position and that of Edinburgh’s business community, in due course.”

Edinburgh City Council is undertaking a consultation about plans to introduce a £2-a-night or 2% charge to all forms of accommodation, including short-term lets, with a seven-night cap.

Regardless of the outcome of the consultation, Edinburgh Council will not be able to impose a tourist tax without legislation from the Scottish government.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, commented: “The Scottish Tourism Alliance and UK Hospitality are in agreement that the tourism tax issue is a significant one for all businesses, particularly those within the hospitality and tourism sector in the City of Edinburgh and it therefore comes as no surprise to our associations that only 13 tourism and hospitality businesses responding to this survey were in favour of a tourism tax.

“It’s not clear what type of tourism and hospitality businesses these are; whether these are hotels, bars, restaurants or visitor attractions for example.

“It’s also unclear if context around international price competitiveness was communicated to respondents – the UK’s position being 135 out of 136 countries in the most recent World Economic Forum report, which points to the fact that the UK has a long way to go before we’re able to put ourselves in the same league of price competitiveness as countries who have already introduced a tourism tax and most notably, have much lower rates of VAT than the UK.

“We are encouraging all tourism business across Scotland, and indeed in Edinburgh, to engage in the Scottish government’s nationwide conversation around a tourism tax and to visit the online portal which I believe will be live this week.”