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Industry protests against plans for Scottish bed tax

06 July 2006

Proposals by a business think-tank to introduce a Scottish bed tax have been slammed by hospitality leaders.

The Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) has suggested introducing a visitor tax to raise money for marketing the city.

The proposals were submitted to the Scottish Executive's Local Government Finance Review Committee, led by Sir Peter Burt - the Scottish equivalent of the Sir Michael Lyons inquiry in England.

ETAG's chairman, Richard Jeffrey, said the report represented "blue-sky thinking" and was designed to start a debate on how to compete with increasing international competition.

However, leading industry campaigners have railed against the proposals.

Government Affairs spokesman for VisitBritain, Stuart Barrow, said: "We are strongly against any kind of extra tax. It's simply crazy economics to suggest that you can encourage more tourists to come here by charging them more."

A spokesman for VisitScotland welcomed debate about funding tourism promotion but cautioned against introducing a transient visitor tax.

He said: "It could damage one of Scotland's most successful areas of economic activity. It is not in the best interests of the tourism industry and is not the best way of achieving additional funding."

Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA), said at the association's annual lunch in London this week that the tax would drive the UK's tourism trade deficit, currently at nearly £20m, further into the red.

He added: "It will deter overseas visitors from visiting this country and will encourage more UK citizens to go abroad.

"The suggestion of a bed tax is immensely damaging to the tourism industry in Scotland or England. We will continue to campaign against it."

Grant Hearn, chief executive of Travelodge, who is already campaigning vigorously against a bed tax in England, added: "We believe this will have a debilitating impact on tourism, on which the Scottish economy is so heavily reliant. We urge the review team to oppose the idea."

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said the review committee would look at a range of taxation options. "Ministers will give the committee's findings full consideration before making decisions on local taxation issues," she added.

Sir Peter Burt's report is due in October.

Scottish tourism

  • 2% (70) of responses to Caterer‘s Say No To Bed Tax campaign were from Scotland.
  • The Scottish tourism industry employs 200,000 full-time staff and tourism generates £4.8b
  • The Scottish Executive plans to grow tourism by 50% by 2015
  • Edinburgh accounts for a third of Scotland's tourism income.
  • One in three visitors to Scotland stay in hotels.

Have your say

To have your say against a bed tax in Scotland, please download and complete the Scottish version of our petition and post it back to us at Say No To Bed Tax Campaign, Caterer and Hotelkeeper, FREEPOST (CN2908), Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5BR and we'll forward it to the Burt Review. Alternatively write to the Local Government Finance Review Committee, c/o Scottish Executive, Area 3-J (North), Victoria Quay, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ.

Go here for more news, opinions and letters on bed tax.

By Emily Manson

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