Fierce opposition from Scottish tourism industry kills new “bed tax” plans


EDINBURGH, Scotland – Controversial plans to introduce a so-called “bed tax” or levy on visitors to Scotland to help pay for major events look set to be scuppered due to fierce opposition from the tourism industry and a lack of Scottish Government support.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance, the main voice of the industry, is to campaign against the move, saying it “risks discouraging tourists” from visiting Scotland.

And tourism agency Visit­Scotland has said a visitor ­
tax – which the government insists it has no plans to introduce – could “damage” and “hinder” one of Scotland’s best-performing industries.

However, council leaders in Edinburgh have stepped up efforts to win backing for a tax or levy as they strive to make £141 million in savings.

The latest proposal, which would see an extra charge added to bills, would help meet the costs of staging events such as the Fringe, the Edinburgh International Festival and the city’s Hogmanay celebrations, and reduce the impact on the public purse.

A major study on the future of Edinburgh’s main festivals, published last May, warned that they risked losing their “premier division status” if levels of funding could not be maintained in future. Consultants behind the Thundering Hooves study said “new thinking and innovative solutions” were needed to break a long-term stalemate over alternative funding mechanisms.

However, the Scottish Tourism Alliance, which represents more than 250 businesses and organisations, said an additional tax burden would not be “sensible” when Scotland was “already increasingly challenged to remain competitive as a destination”.

Chair Stephen Leckie said: “The reason we continue to resist any kind of tourist tax is we feel the industry is already taxed enough.