Council Leader Cammy Day has welcomed today’s announcement by the Scottish Government that it intends to introduce a bill to give councils the powers to introduce a visitor levy.
The bill, which is expected to be laid before parliament early next year, forms of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government for 2022/23, as set out by the First Minister in Holyrood this afternoon.
The council has long campaigned for the powers to introduce a levy – which would see overnight visitors pay a small additional charge on their accommodation – and has produced a substantial body of work to back its case. This included a detailed consultation in 2018, which saw 85% of the 2,500 respondents expressing strong support for its introduction. This figure included a majority of Edinburgh-based businesses and accommodation providers.
It was estimated then that a levy in Edinburgh could raise in the region of £15m per year to invest in sustainable tourism and managing the impact of tourism on the city.
Council Leader Cammy Day said:
This is fantastic news for the city, and a landmark step following years of work here in the Capital to make the case for a visitor levy – something that’s common practice in other major cities and destinations across the world.
We’re very proud to be one of the world’s most popular visitor destinations, but we’re equally aware that this success comes at a cost. That’s why 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. From our citywide consultation held in 2018, our proposals gained overwhelming backing from Edinburgh’s residents, businesses and attractions – and, importantly, also from the majority of accommodation providers.
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.
We acknowledge, of course, that this has been an extremely challenging period for our culture and hospitality industries and are fully committed to working together with them, the wider tourism industry and other partners to co-produce a scheme that works best for the whole of our Capital city.
I’ll be pushing the Scottish Government hard to ensure that any income generated is in addition to our block grant funding – not instead of it – and that we’re in a position to benefit from this as soon as possible.