Kezia Dugdale: Tax AirBnB businesses to save our city

Local residents have complained about the effect that AirBnB is having on their communities
Local residents have complained about the effect that AirBnB is having on their communities
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Living and working within ten minutes’ walk of the town centre, I feel the rise and fall of the tourist crowds throughout the season.

There’s been a big increase in the past month and with it begins the annual debate about the need for a tourist tax and slow and fast walking lanes on the Royal Mile (that last one might just be me though).

As tens of thousands move into our beautiful city, we have to ask ourselves about the balance between those who visit for a few days and those who call the centre of town home.

Whether it’s people renting out whole properties online or serviced self-catering accommodation, it all boils down to the wheelie cases being dragged up and down tenement stairwells at all hours. Late night drinking and the mess that comes with that, plus an overall erosion of that critical thing called community.

AirBnB is currently love bombing this city and its elected officials with briefings on how much their service is worth and how little trouble or inconvenience it causes compared to other options. It is talking about limiting the number of nights anyone can rent out their property in the city to 90 days plus the festivals – which is still half the year.

That’s something but it also misses the point. Too many people are running their properties as businesses without the proper council paperwork and no doubt in contravention of their property deeds and mortgages. That’s essentially illegal and what’s more, the income from these “businesses” should be properly taxed to protect the fabric of our city.

Cracking down on something so successful might seem contrary to do – but I’m increasingly convinced it’s essential to preserving tourism in the future.