Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday that the Scottish Government will introduce a Bill that would give councils the power to enact tourist tax schemes. According to the City of Edinburgh Council, it could generate £15 million each year.
The proposed tax would see tourists charged an additional accommodation fee, with the money being used to pay for infrastructure and services. Other cities such as Barcelona already have such a scheme in place.
The First Minister said: “We will introduce a Local Visitor Levy Bill to give local authorities additional fiscal flexibility. This will help councils, if they so choose, to fund activities related to tourism and related infrastructure.”
City of Edinburgh Council leader Cammy Day added that the city was “very proud” to be among the world’s most popular tourist destinations. However, he added that the success “comes at a cost”.
He stated: “We believe it’s right to ask visitors to make a small contribution to help us sustain and improve our tourism offer while managing its impact.
“We’ve been building the case for Edinburgh to become the first city in the UK to introduce such a levy, consistently and repeatedly making the case to Scottish ministers without success – until now.
“Ultimately the income this generates will help us continue to invest in and manage the success of tourism on our city, making sure we continue to offer one of the most enviable and enjoyable visitor experiences in the world – while bringing new and additional benefits to our residents who live and work here all year round.”
A consultation held in 2018 saw 85 per cent of respondents in the city support the scheme, including a large number of accommodation providers and businesses.