Edinburgh tourist tax plans to be submitted to Holyrood

Visitors to the Capital would be charged £2 or two per cent of their room cost each night under detailed tourist tax plans set to be handed over to the Scottish Government.
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Subject to approval of the city council’s Policy and Strategy Committee next Tuesday, the authority will launch a public consultation before gearing up to submit finalised plans to Holyrood next year.

Proposals to be put to the public include either a £2 or two per cent charge per night per room. The charge would be in place for the whole year, but capped at seven nights.

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Hotels, apartments, Airbnb properties and hostels would all be subject to guests paying the tax.

Councillor Adam McVey, Leader, City of Edinburgh Council.Councillor Adam McVey, Leader, City of Edinburgh Council.
Councillor Adam McVey, Leader, City of Edinburgh Council.

No legal framework is currently in place to introduce a tourist tax, or Transient Visitor Levy (TVL) as the council has branded it. But the council leadership wants to demonstrate to ministers how the charge would practically work.

Council Leader Cllr Adam McVey said: “Assuming that the consultation doesn’t throw any major hurdles up, we would envisage coming back some point next year. We will come back with what will be a finalised Edinburgh transient visitor levy in the New Year. We are not going to put a timescale on that because it depends on the nature of comments that we get. By the summer we will be in a position to have a finalised Edinburgh TVL. That is not to say that it will be rolled out and implemented by the summer, but Edinburgh’s plans will be ready and we will have done our part of that.”

The council believes the charge would raise around £11 million of extra funding a year. The public will be asked what they would like to see that money spent on.

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The administration has faced criticism over failing to win support from Holyrood for a tourism tax to be implemented across Scotland.

Depute Leader Cllr Cammy Day said: “What the government have told us is you need to engage with the industry, it’s not a no. That’s exactly what we have done. We are building a strong case for it. We are doing everything we have been asked to do and we will put that case to the Scottish Government in the New Year.”

He added: “It’s us working on a scheme that works for Edinburgh. We have spent four or five different meetings with parts of the industry. We’ve also engaged with tourists, we’re also now looking to engage with the public.

“We want to have a TVL that’s fair for everybody – for the industry, residents and tourists that’s simple and everybody understands it, raises money for the city and is transparent and accountable.”

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Cllr McVey also hit back at critics who have claimed the administration will fail to deliver the policy by the end of the council term.

He said: “There’s a lot of conversations that are taking place through existing channels including between myself and some of the ministers directly.

“We wouldn’t have put it in our programme if we didn’t think it was going to happen. We put it in our programme to be delivered within the term of this administration. That doesn’t mean to say we are aiming for summer 2022, but the pledge we made to the people of this city is we’re going to do it within this council term.”