Visitors Now Need to Pay Tourist Tax to Enter Scotland

The parliament of the country has voted in favour of asking guests to pay a ‘visitor levy’ but the tourism sector fears it will add to their increasing challenges.

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By Mrinal
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Scotland wants visitors to pay a 'tourist tax'

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Our all-dreamy plans of vacationing in Scotland might soon turn sour. Why? Well, the parliament of Scotland has voted in favour of levying a visitor tax on the tourists who enter the country. The original proposal for the same was given by the Scottish Greens which asked for a ‘visitor levy, a type of fee or tax, to be charged on overnight stays in some types of accommodation’. According to the new policy, hotels and B&Bs will now be collecting this tourist tax.

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The tourist tax will be charged to all overnight guests

The Tourist Tax

The government has approved a ‘tourist’ tax for the country which will ask any overnight-staying visitor to pay a visitor’s levy. The exact amount of tax has been left to local authorities of different districts, but overall, an additional amount will be added to the overall bill of a person staying at a hotel or B&B in the land. Though approved, the implementation date of the tourist tax has not been set, and according to officials, it will not see the light of the day before 2026. The bill was passed with 83 votes in favour, 27 against, and 4 abstentions.

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The bill will come in effect in 2026

Government Speaks

According to Ariane Burgess, a member of the Scottish Parliament for Highlands and Islands, the decision is “a small charge on individuals, but it will deliver a huge funding boost for Scotland’s local heroes up and down the country.” She added, “For the first time, it will empower local councils to make spending decisions on key areas of need in their regions, especially for the likes of affordable homes and regeneration work to support workers and communities.”

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Ariane Burgess, member, Scottish Parliament for Highlands and Islands

Talking of the same, Ken Gowans, vice convenor, Highland Council, Scotland, said, “The Highland Council welcomes the passing of the Visitor Levy Bill to Stage 3 through the Scottish Parliament. This enables the Council to begin the roll out of an 18 month implementation period to put in place the systems needed to collect and administer the levy. The tourism sector offers vital economic benefit to the Highlands and Islands and the Visitor Levy Bill helps to ensure its sustainability. The earliest a visitor levy could come into force is in 2026 and the revenue generated will enable the Council to delivery much needed strategic investment through Highland. Collaboration around the levy is essential towards developing a well-informed sustainable tourism and infrastructure strategy that aligns with everyone’s aspirations for Highland and that work is underway and can now be streamlined.”

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Ken Gowans, vice convenor, Highland Council, Scotland

The Opposition

Though various bodies and organisations welcomed the tax as a needed measure, many do not seem like a big fan. The Association of Scottish Self Caterers, for one, claims that the new rule brings in “red tape and costs to Scotland’s hard-pressed tourism sector.”

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Fiona Campbell, chief executive, Association of Scottish Self Caterers

Fiona Campbell, chief executive, Association of Scottish Self Caterers, stated: “In pushing through the Visitor Levy legislation, the Scottish Government has shown that they haven’t learned from the disastrous rollout of STL legislation. While ASSC has welcomed the opportunity to participate in cross party engagement to endeavour to get this right, and that regulation in certain areas should be welcomed, we are concerned once more about the unintended consequences of this legislation. Scottish tourism has been hit incredibly hard in the last few years, and this will only add to the burden that small tourism providers across the country will face. Given the challenging climate that Scottish tourism is operating in – from falling visitor numbers, ongoing pandemic recovery, cost of living and STL regulations – now is not the time for this legislation, as it brings yet further red tape and costs to Scotland’s hard-pressed tourism sector.”

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