Tourist tax should be dropped and Airbnb plans changed, politicians told

Politicians are being urged to drop plans for a tourist tax and ensure "proportionate" regulation of short-term lets to help tourism recover from the pandemic.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 7:00 am
Tourists on the Esplanade at Edinburgh Castle

The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) has launched its first ever manifesto for the Holyrood elections, setting out the help they believe their sector needs to get back to business.

The Scottish Government announced in September that plans for a tourist tax had been put on hold due to Covid-19 and that “future consideration of the levy will take account of the changed context the industry is operating in”.

But the ASSC manifesto says there are still calls for a tourist tax and says the next Scottish Government must "clearly and unequivocally" rule out such a tax.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"An additional tax would merely reduce the competitiveness of Scotland’s tourism sector in relation to our main competitor destinations and we should not be placing additional barriers in the way of our recovery."

The manifesto claims a tourist tax would penalise Scottish families for wanting to holiday at home.

The government pressed on with its proposals on short-term lets which would give councils the power to regulate Airbnb-style accommodation through a licensing scheme and declaring control zones, but it announced last month the legislation was being delayed until the new parliament amid concerns from MSPs that traditional B&Bs could be hit too.

The ASSC is urging regulation should be approached "in an evidence-based way rather than being swayed by anecdote or hearsay".

The manifesto says: “In place of a disproportionate and blanket licensing regime in Scotland, the ASSC propose that the next Scottish Government consider a more targeted and bespoke response – the introduction of a registration scheme, with mandatory health and safety criteria, rather than licensing, as the most proportionate and achievable for local authorities in Scotland.

ASSC chief executive Fiona Campbell said: “The 2021 Scottish Parliamentary elections matter immensely to our sector and we’ll be working closely with many across the next parliament for the good of the self-catering and wider tourism sector.

“Our proposals are common sense, practical, and will help Scottish self-catering build a solid foundation from which to build as we come out of the pandemic and into the future."

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.