The Scottish government has included the introduction of a tourist tax in its annual budget just days after consulting the industry on the controversial scheme.
The Transient Visitor Levy (TVL) was agreed as part of a deal to get the budget passed between the ruling Scottish Nationalists and Green MSP’s, along with a number of other tax reforms including increased parking fees and council tax.
A second consultation on the introduction of the scheme has since been announced.
Some councils have already put forward proposals for how the scheme will operate in their regions. Revised plans recently put forward by Edinburgh council will, if passed, add a flat £2 per night room charge, capped at seven consecutive nights.
Willie Macleod, executive director, Scotland for trade body UK Hospitality said: “We are extremely concerned today that the Scottish government ignored the advice of the country’s leading tourism experts and announced the introduction of new legislation for a tourist tax.
“It is less than a week since they concluded a national conversation about the tax. Before the ink was dry and the results properly assessed, the government has made a far-reaching decision, on this critical industry, on a whim for political convenience.
“We hope they see sense and use this announced second consultation to properly listen to the views of the majority of the tourist industry and dismiss this ill-informed and badly conceived tax.”
Edinburgh hoteliers have previously said they were concerned a TVL could add to existing tax burdens at a time of uncertainty.
Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, has earlier said: “Hoteliers and indeed all tourism businesses in Scotland are facing uncertain times ahead as we move closer towards our EU departure date and an unknown economic landscape.
“Most businesses are seeing profits erode, thus putting even greater pressure on the ability to invest in their product and their teams. This also limits their capability of continually improving the quality of the offer that guests expect today; some are even reporting up to 40% increases in energy, not to mention the significant increases in rates for large business that don’t qualify for the welcomed rates cap of the past two years.
“What our tourism industry, especially the hotel and accommodation sector needs, is a time of stability and the opportunity to strengthen and grow, not the threat of an additional cost to our visitors in an already highly taxed environment.”