Tourism leaders call on Edinburgh Council to stop toursim tax consultation

Tourism leaders have told the city council to halt its tourist tax consultation - claiming those who oppose the plans cannot have their say.

Wednesday, 14th November 2018, 12:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th November 2018, 12:54 pm

The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) has written to city council leader Cllr Adam McVey and chief executive Andrew Kerr, asking that the “consultation ceases as soon as possible” into introducing a tourist tax or transient visitor levy (TVL). The council would also need Scottish Government backing for the policy. The council leader has hit back at the STA, claiming it has refused to cooperate over the plans.

A STA spokeswoman said: “The tourism bodies argue that the consultation document as it currently stands presents no opportunity for opponents of a TVL to register their opposition, fundamentally undermining the consultation, which currently has little or no support from within the City’s broader tourism industry.

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Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey. Picture: Ian Georgeson

“The letter also raises the point that the consultation neglects to seek alternative views about how revenue could otherwise be raised and that the consultation fails to inform respondents of the contributions of millions of pounds by the tourism and hospitality sectors to the council finances through business rates and employment.“

The online consultation twice asks users to rate their support for a tourist tax on a scale of one to 10. Respondents are also asked what concerns they have about a tourist tax, any suggestions for alternative proposals and what the revenue should be spent on.

The council has hit back at the STA - saying it has been unwilling to work constructively with the authority.

Cllr McVey said: “I am surprised and disappointed by STA’s position. We offered them every opportunity to work with us to help shape the consultation but they have consistently refused to engage with us.

“We have been transparent and rigorous in our approach throughout and want to thank industry partners for their input into the developing the consultation. We have been entirely clear that this is about the detail and nature of how an Edinburgh scheme might look.

“Our online survey is comprehensive, covering all aspects of a potential scheme, and respondents are specifically asked twice on how supportive – or otherwise – they are of our plans. At both points, and elsewhere, the survey provides text boxes allowing for fuller responses.

“We have already had a strong response to survey, with over 2,100 individuals and organisations having had their say. We want responses to be as thorough and inclusive of all stakeholders as possible, but especially our industry partners, and I today reiterate our offer to meet with the STA, attend any events, sessions or meetings they are holding to discuss our proposals further.”

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