Long-awaited legislation for a visitor levy

Torchlight Procession - credit Forever Edinburgh

Council Leader Cammy Day has welcomed today’s publication of a Bill by the Scottish Parliament to empower councils to raise money through tourism.

If passed, the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill will give the City of Edinburgh Council the power to progress plans for a levy on stays in overnight accommodation, which it has been campaigning to see introduced for over five years.

The council has produced a substantial body of work to back its case for why a levy is the right move for Edinburgh, including a detailed consultation in 2018 which saw 85% of 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. The Bill published today stipulates that levies must be based on a percentage of the accommodation cost, and spent of services substantially for or used by tourists.

Council Leader Cammy Day said:

We’ve been building the case for Edinburgh to introduce such a levy for years so it’s great to finally see this Bill brought forward.

We’re very proud that Edinburgh is 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, and why we’ve been a key driver working with COSLA and the Scottish Government to see this legislation brought forward.

A visitor levy is common practice in other major cities and destinations so why not here, in the place named ‘best city in the world’ to visit by Time Out magazine?

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.

Clearly, this model will need to be reviewed in line with the recommendations of the Bill so reshaping this with input from industry partners and communities is our next priority. It has been an extremely challenging period for our culture and hospitality industries so it’s more important than ever that we are fully committed to working together with them and other partners to co-produce a scheme that works best for the whole of our Capital city.

Published: May 25th 2023