Edinburgh tax threatens ‘more pressure’

UK inbound industry chiefs have warned Edinburgh’s plans for a tourism tax will add pressure on hotels amid growing concern about the impact of Brexit.

Edinburgh city council agreed plans for a Transient Visitor Levy of £2 a night on tourists this week after the Scottish government announced it would consult on the proposals ahead of tabling legislation to enable the tax.

UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said: “We are very concerned about the Transient Visitor Levy. Visitors to the UK are already some of the most highly taxed in the world.”

He told the association’s annual convention in Glasgow: “Rushing to tax more when we need to offer a warm welcome is the last thing we need.

UKinbound chairman James Aitken agreed, saying: “When the country is mourning the death of the high street is it wise to put more pressure on hotels and guest houses?”

He queried whether the levy would apply to Airbnb-type businesses, asking: “Will they have to comply with it?”

Aitken warned: “A tourism tax will impact on the margin end [of the hotel sector], not on the luxury end [and] I’m sure councils all over Britain will wake up to it.”

UKinbound represents almost 400 UK inbound travel businesses.

Edinburgh’s proposed levy on visitors would be illegal without a change to the law in Scotland, which is expected to take about 18 months.

The Scottish government, and the Scottish National Party (SNP) which leads the administration without an overall majority, previously opposed a tourism tax.

However, it agreed to consult and legislate last week in return for the support of the Green Party in passing the government budget.

Edinburgh council confirmed its plans for a levy of £2 per visitor per night, up to a maximum of seven nights, on all forms of accommodation accept campsites.

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