Scotland Set To Introduce New 'Tourist Tax' For Visitors

Not everyone is happy about it...

Written byEric Blair
Published on
Read time4 min read

Visitors to Scotland are to be charged a new ‘tourist tax’ following the passing of The Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill by the Scottish Parliament.

The fee will see tourists pay an extra percentage on top of the cost of overnight accommodation - minus commission the provider pays to any online booking service and room ‘add-ons’ such as food and drink.

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How much is the Scottish tourist tax?

As yet it is unconfirmed, however for example, the Scottish government says a 1% levy on £200 for a room would result in a £2 tourist tax, with accommodation providers responsible for collecting the charge before passing the money on to their local authority.

Each local authority would have the power to decide if it wanted to introduce a charge and what the level of the charge should be, with seventeen of Scotland's 32 councils, along with national body Cosla, backing the introduction of the levy, according to Scottish government consultation.

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Marc Crothall, of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “Tourism is everybody's business and touches every household. If you are a florist, a plumber, or a joiner you are going to be working for tourism businesses.”

As reported by the BBC, owner of the Ben Cruachan guesthouse in Edinburgh, Ollie Hughes, said: “The visitor levy would not be the nail in the coffin for us, but certainly would be for other businesses.”

He said room charges would need to increase to cover the tax, which could then push businesses over the VAT threshold resulting in further administration charges.

“You are then not even an unpaid tax collector, you are penalised for collecting taxes,” he added.

However, many European countries, including parts of Germany and Spain, already have tourist levies.

Venice in Italy now charges day-trippers an extra fee as part of efforts to control visitor numbers, while Manchester introduced its City Visitor Charge last April to pay for measures aimed at attracting more visitors.

The £1 per room, per night fee, is estimated to have raised about £2.8m in its first year.

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When does the Scotland tourist tax start?


The Scottish government has suggested 2026, depending on timescales, with City of Edinburgh Council potentially the first city to implement it, says leader Cammy Day.

“The city has campaigned for the last decade or more to try and bring in a visitor levy for the city to raise some essential income for the capital,” he said.

“People pay a few extra pounds to help contribute to the running of the city. The Royal Mile and the heart of Edinburgh at Festival time is awash with hundreds of thousands of people - which is great for the city - but it also creates additional pressures on services.”

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