After tourist tax, all we need now is a 1000 per cent Silent Disco tax - Vladimir McTavish

The very annoying Silent Disco at Hunter SquareThe very annoying Silent Disco at Hunter Square
The very annoying Silent Disco at Hunter Square
As a supporter of the concept of a tourist tax for Edinburgh, I am pleased to see the City Council look likely to go ahead with the plan soon.

They have changed tack from the original idea of a flat two pounds per person per day. They now plan a percentage levy, predicted to be around four percent per person per night. This is much fairer. After all, anyone staying at the Caledonian or the Sheraton Grand would not notice an extra two quid a day added to their bill, unlike a backpacker on a tight budget staying in a hostel.

I have seen similar schemes work well in other places around the world. Mallorca charges visitors a tourist tax, and I witnessed its benefit recently, when my wife and I holidayed on the west side of the island, during an annual fiesta. This involved non-stop singing and dancing, a lot of fireworks being set off in the streets of our resort, and a humungous amount of drinking from first thing in the morning until early evening when the whole procession headed inland to the nearby market town.

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At six o’clock, the streets were littered with empty firework shells, discarded flags and cigarette ends. The bins were piled high with empty beer cans, plastic cups and takeaway food boxes. By eight in the evening, one would never know the whole carnival had ever happened. The streets were spanking clean and the bins were all empty, after the council’s refuse collectors had blitzed the area. That’s tourist tax in action.

Compare that to the Edinburgh Fringe, where every year we have to wade through litter on the streets, most of it discarded flyers handed out willy-nilly by desperate performers on the High Street and promptly dropped on the pavement.

Obviously, last year this situation was much worse due to bin men’s industrial action. Had been a tourist tax been in operation at the time, I imagine the council might have had the funds to prevent the strike.

Talking of the Fringe, I have another idea that I think will be popular with residents and a majority of tourists, namely a one-thousand per cent levy on tickets for the Silent Disco. Hopefully that will help get that particularly annoying rubbish off the streets in August.

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