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Scottish government consults on tourist tax

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The Scottish government is consulting until 2 December 2019 on introducing a discretionary power for local authorities in Scotland to impose local tourist taxes.

The intention is to provide local authorities with a discretionary power to decide whether to impose a visitor levy in their areas. There will be no obligation for any local authority to implement a levy. The consultation document, published on 9 September, refers to such a tax variously as a ‘transient visitor levy‘, ‘visitor levy’, or ‘tourist tax’. The consultation seeks views on the choice of name.

A number of Scottish local authorities, seeing local pressures from growing tourist numbers, have called for the Scottish government to allow them to apply a ‘tourist tax’ where appropriate for local circumstances. This prompted opposition from Scotland’s tourism sector, concerned that such a levy could have negative impacts on the competitiveness of the wider tourism sector across Scotland. The current consultation follows a series of national discussion events held between November 2018 and January 2019, accompanied by a discussion document.

The consultation seeks views on the activity or activities to which a visitor levy should apply. These include:

  • overnight stays;
  • additional taxable activities;
  • day visitors;
  • cruise ship passengers; and
  • wild or rough camping, including motorhomes and camper vans.

The broad options for any charge are:

  • flat rate per person per night;
  • flat rate per room per night;
  • percentage of accommodation charge; or
  • flat rate per night dependent on the quality of accommodation.

The document also discusses a number of exemptions.

The need to provide a long lead-in time and legislative procedure mean this power is not likely to be available to local authorities until the summer season of 2021 at the earliest. See

Issue: 1460
Categories: News