Edinburgh needs visitors to return, but when they come it's time for a tourist tax – Helen Martin

According to the Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers, the Scottish government should “clearly and unequivocally” rule out a tourist tax.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 12:30 pm
Tourists wearing face masks visit Edinburgh Castle in January last year (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Well, everyone has a different attitude to that, when it happens and who pays.

Obviously, beginning in September, the government suspended the plans for tourist tax throughout Covid-19.

Few or no tourists were likely to be coming. Tourism and hospitality had virtually no income. And even when tourists come back gradually, it will be some time before there seems any logic to charge them an extra tax.

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But in normal times, several foreign city destinations will have a tourist tax. And why should Scotland (or Edinburgh) give up that income when others pull it in?

The other problem with a tourist tax (£2 a night) is where it goes to. Here, the council plan was for it to help pay for the costs of mass tourism in the Capital.

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Before Covid-19 what many of us felt was that a tourist tax should actually support or increase the income of council tax so residents (who didn’t work in the industry) got at least some benefit from mass tourism which, otherwise, many would continue to loathe.

Right now, everyone should support the return of tourists. Many don’t want the same millions as in 2019 and horrendous over-crowding of the city, but there’s a chance that numbers would be sensibly reduced anyway.

And eventually, when it builds up to a reasonable maximum, the tax has to return. Then we can still argue with the council where the money (once estimated at least £11 million) should be spent.

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