Consumers are being warned against ‘hidden’ tourism tax fees when planning holidays by the head of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association.

The call comes amid a rising tide of additional fees, ranging from hotel and resort taxes through to exit fees.

SPAA president Ken McLeod stressed the importance of the role that travel agents play in making customers aware of tourism taxes and what needs to be accounted for when budgeting for the overall cost of a holiday.

He said: “Unfortunately, tourists are often unsure as to whether the tax has been added to their online package deal or whether extra money will be needed to cover the fees. The reality is that tax costs requested at the holiday destination are almost never added to the initial reservations made online, so it comes as a complete surprise.

“One might wonder why certain cities charge tourist tax. For the local governments of the countries in question, tourism tax is a quick turnover which could contribute to the development of cities and the preservation of their surrounding environments, which might be negatively impacted due to mass tourism.

“However, many people question whether this is fair. Tourism boosts a nation’s economy when visitors pay for attractions, use public transport, shop and dine out. In view of such a contribution, one might maintain that tourism tax is downright unnecessary.”

McLeod argued that those who book their holidays through travel agents will be able to turn to them for advice on what the full cost implications will be, including when and how the taxes need to be paid.

He added: “Travel agents have strong industry knowledge that can save potential tourists time researching and can assist them in making the correct budget calculations for their trips.

“Browsing through the internet for information on tourism tax can be a time-consuming and frustrating effort. However, agents can provide their customers with information regarding all fees that are included in a holiday package within minutes.

“Such expertise paves way for accurate financial planning without any shockers at the end of your trip. Additionally, your travel agent can act as your point of reference in the event of travel assistance required for any issues related to your flight and accommodation bookings.

“Another point to take home when consulting a travel agent is the perk of potentially saving up on the total costs of your holiday package, even when including tourism tax fees.

“This is mainly because agents have sealed agreements for attractive flight and accommodation deals with airline and hotel companies which can be considerably lower than what you can find online.”