Edinburgh Council backs tourist tax plans

The City of Edinburgh Council has voted in favour of a controversial plan to implement a proposed £2 tourist tax on the city.

The plans still require legislation from the Scottish government, with a final proposed to be submitted to the national legislature following the vote today. The news comes after the Scottish government included an introduction for a tourist tax into its budget last week.

The decision has been welcomed by Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce  who said they found “broad support” for the levy.

Its CEO, Liz McAreavey, told BBC News: “After consulting our members, we found broad support for the principle of a transient visitor levy, support which increases further if funds were ring-fenced and re-invested entirely in the city’s infrastructure.

“What we require now is some more detailed information from City of Edinburgh Council as to exactly what they propose to do with the funds raised via a TVL.”

However Willie Macleod, UKHospitality’s executive director for Scotland, said he is “extremely disappointed” that the City of Edinburgh Council has voted in favour.

He said: “During the debate, Cllr McVey stated that consultation was a critical part of their process. Our members in the city would disagree, they do not support the introduction of a tourist tax and their opinions have been ignored.

“It has been suggested that a tax will raise £11m but economic impact modelling shows that it would cost the city £94m, making it the highest taxed city to visit in Europe.  In these days of austerity, it seems bizarre that councillors would jeopardise losing millions of pounds of potential revenue from not only international visitors but also “staycationers” from Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“Furthermore, the City of Edinburgh Council vote comes despite no legislation having yet been passed by the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government has yet to initiate its promised consultation on any such legislation.”

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