Help us decide on the best use of a tourist tax

Council Leader Adam McVey shares his views in the Edinburgh Evening News.

As an Administration, we have always put the best interests of the Capital and its residents first. I don’t always make myself the most popular person in the city, with some of the louder voices in the hospitality industry or even some members of my own party.

Yesterday, I put forward a report to members detailing our planned response to the Scottish Government and COSLA’s Local Governance Review. Updates are long overdue to the legal framework local authorities operate within so we truly welcome the chance to shape future change.

Potentially, this Review could be a real chance to declutter and shake up legislation and possibly devolve local decision making to local areas. So, we’ll soon be writing to Holyrood to request Councils are granted more flexible powers.Council Leader

In Edinburgh, that includes calling for the ability to implement a form of Transient Visitor Levy, better known as a Tourist Tax. One of our city’s biggest strengths is its massive appeal as a tourist destination. The more people who choose to come to the Capital, the more vibrant and economically successful the city is. I believe we can retain Edinburgh’s reputation as a welcoming and fantastic place to visit while also introducing a levy to help us continue to invest towards keeping the city moving and looking its best.

Last year, we welcomed 4.5 million visitors to Edinburgh. If a £2 levy was applied to the cost of each hotel room occupied and paid for by visitors, that could equate to over £11m which could be ringfenced to help fund activities to support the continued success of our visitor economy and improve the liveability of the city for residents, particularly at peak tourist seasons. If implemented, Edinburgh’s tourist tax would the first of its kind in the UK. But these schemes are actually very common – and successful – in many European cities, from Berlin to Rome.

We know from two independent studies carried out by Marketing Edinburgh in the summer and again more recently in the autumn that such a scheme would have widespread backing. The findings revealed that the vast majority of visitors would not be put off coming to Edinburgh if a levy were introduced. It also demonstrated support at home, with most residents welcoming the proposals.

While these findings added weight to our own assumptions, we want to hear from as many people as possible so we’re ready to approach a scheme in the best way for businesses and residents. I hope you’ll take the chance to fill in our online consultation before it closes on 10 December. We’re asking how a potential tourist tax could work in practice if we were to be granted the necessary powers to introduce one here in Edinburgh. Have your say at https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/ce/tvl/.

Adam McVey

Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council

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