Cammy Day: It’s high time Holyrood acted on tourist tax for Edinburgh

Around four million people visited Edinburgh last year ' proof of the city's appeal to tourists from across the globe, Picture: Scott Taylor
Around four million people visited Edinburgh last year ' proof of the city's appeal to tourists from across the globe, Picture: Scott Taylor
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It’s the start of September already and we’re saying goodbye to yet another hugely successful Festival for our capital city – and to the wonderfully diverse range of performers and visitors from across the world who joined our celebrations.

With around four million visitors last year, and numbers expected to increase this year, there is no better evidence to prove that Edinburgh is one of the best and most popular cities in the world and I am hugely proud of its growing success.

Cammy Day is the depute leader of Edinburgh City Council. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Cammy Day is the depute leader of Edinburgh City Council. Picture: Ian Georgeson

There was further evidence of this just last week with Edinburgh scooping yet another prestigious national award, coming second only to London in the Condé Nast Readers’ Travel Awards 2018, demonstrating once again the importance Edinburgh plays in the UK tourism and culture scene. As council depute leader, I am more aware than ever that we, as this generation of the city’s leaders, business and citizens have a massive responsibility ensure the future expansion of the city’s festival and cultural offerings. We must do our best to build on the success of the city, those that have worked hard to develop the successful traditions we enjoy and, above all, ensure local people, tourists and businesses share in this success.

READ MORE: Airbnb and new Virgin Hotel back Edinburgh tourist tax

That’s why, this summer, as part of our firm commitment to introducing a tourist levy, we have been asking tourists, businesses and local people for their thoughts on adding a few pounds on to visitors’ bills to contribute towards the running and improvement of the city. This research, which we will be in a position to share later this week, will help us understand how we best take forward our plans.

I’m disappointed, though not necessarily surprised, that the Scottish Government haven’t yet incorporated our proposals into their Programme for Government (laid out last week by the First Minister).

With continued cuts to local government funding, local taxation powers must be higher on their list of priorities. Despite this lack of action from the Scottish Government, I will continue to play a lead role, alongside the council leader, Adam McVey, to develop a robust, industry-supported case for change to present to ministers.

This Thursday, Cllr McVey will keep up the momentum as he is gives evidence to the culture committee at Holyrood. It’s time for a tourist levy – and it’s high time Holyrood recognised this.

READ MORE: John McLellan: Tourist tax plan faces a mountain to climb

More locally, I will be joining the celebrations of Trinity Academy’s 125-year anniversary. Alongside that, I hope the Scottish Government will release funding to allow us to completely develop a new Trinity Academy, fit for another 125 years and more.

And as we look to build a new Victoria Primary School, I will be supporting the local community’s wish to retain the old Victoria Primary school and develop it into a Newhaven Hub.

The wider community in Newhaven are already working hard with funders, local people and the council. If you haven’t already joined up, please visit the Newhaven Heritage Centre website to find out more.

Cammy Day is Edinburgh City Council’s depute leader and leader of the council’s Labour group