Edinburgh tourism tax plans revealed as city gains support for new levy

Visitors heading to Edinburgh could end up facing a tourism tax in the near future as the city’s council considers proposal for a new Transient Visitor Levy. 

The proposed scheme would introduce a charge of either two per cent or £2 per room, per night, for tourists staying in ‘all forms of accommodation’ including short-term lets. 

Similar schemes already exist in cities such as Paris, Barcelona and Rome, where the charges tend to be absorbed into visitors’ hotel fees. 

Edinburgh City Council says that it’s estimated the levy could raise between £11.6million and £14.6million per year, which can then be re-invested into the city from public services to its culture and heritage, as well as the tourism industry itself.

The council says the tax would be capped at seven nights, but it’s likely this would still affect the majority of tourists who flock there for a short city break.

It held an eight-week public consultation at the end of 2018 regarding the potential introduction of a levy, and has said that the results were overwhelmingly positive with  85 per cent of locals expressing support . 

As part of the consultation, it emphasised that local authorities have "taken the view that an Edinburgh TVL is necessary and an appropriate way to secure future investment in the tourism industry and, in order to support the council to manage the impact of that success upon our services".

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However, local businesses have previously  vocalised opposition to the tax , raising concerns that it could end up having a negative impact on Edinburgh’s tourism industry, acting as a potential deterrent for visitors. 

In order to implement a tourism tax, the Edinburgh City Council will still need the Scottish government to grant them the necessary power – the public consultation is part of efforts to build a case for this.

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