The Scottish government is consulting on the introduction of a transient visitor levy. In particular, it seeks views to ensure that such a charge would:
- support the continuing success of the tourism industry in Scotland;
- provide the powers needed for local authorities to respond to local pressures; and
- minimise the administrative and compliance burdens for those affected.
Responses should be submitted by 2 December direct through the Scottish government website.
The Association of Accounting Technicians has recommended that the Scottish government opts for a tax of 2.5% on the overall accommodation cost rather than a flat rate per person or per room fee.
Phil Hall, head of public affairs and public policy, said: ‘A 2.5% charge would be much fairer than a flat rate fee and, while it would mean a £2.60 a night charge on average in Edinburgh, it would amount to just £1.35 on average in Aberdeen. It’s not just fairer by region, it’s fairer for everyone when you consider the flat rate proposed by others would see those staying in a five-star hotel charged the same as those staying in a youth hostel – that simply isn’t fair or reasonable.’
The AAT also opposes plans to impose a tourism tax on day visitors, because of the ‘destructive impact this has had on the tourism industry’ in other countries and the administrative burden it would create.
The association stressed the need to set the tax at a suitable rate to ensure it raises funds for sustainable tourism while not discouraging tourism as it has done in some other places such as the Balearics where their tourism tax was doubled after only two years of operation or in relation to day visitors in Amsterdam where the flat rate €8 charge introduced this year has led to a steep fall in visitor numbers.
Further, the Scottish government should consider exempting all Scottish residents from a tourist tax to ensure domestic tourism is not discouraged. This may also render it more acceptable to the Scottish electorate.