Uniting to reform accommodation taxes in Scotland: a call for flexibility and local control

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The hospitality sector in Scotland, including food markets, cafés, pubs, restaurants, hotels, hostels, and leisure activities, is a significant contributor to the country's economy and tourism industry.

However, recent legislative proposals, such as the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill, have sparked heated debates among stakeholders regarding the potential impact of new accommodation taxes on various sectors.

Some support a visitor levy, while others express concerns, particularly for budget travelers and small businesses within the Scottish hospitality industry.

URA members believe that by granting local authorities the power to decide on tax implementation, they can tailor it to their specific needs while ensuring a balanced impact across all sectors.

Moreover, URA argues for transparency in how the collected funds will be allocated, with an emphasis on investments that benefit both visitors and residents alike.

'Tourism brings money into local economies, but councils see very little benefit from that it's only fair that local residents aren't left picking up the bill.'

Green MSP Ross Greer

For instance, allocating resources towards enhancing food markets or improving public transportation infrastructure could boost local economies while fostering a positive visitor experience.

Additionally, URA advocates for a gradual implementation of the tax, allowing businesses ample time to adapt and communicate changes effectively to their customers.

Furthermore, they propose re-evaluating exemptions on a case-by-case basis, ensuring that small businesses and those most affected by the tax receive appropriate consideration.

By promoting flexibility and local control, URA aims to foster collaboration between stakeholders, ultimately resulting in a more effective and equitable approach to accommodation taxes in Scotland.

The proposed Visitor Levy is not without controversy as it may impact various segments of the hospitality sector differently.

Hostels and budget accommodations, for example, might bear a disproportionate burden due to their lower average daily rates.

URA's approach offers a potential solution to this issue by advocating for a more adaptable tax structure that recognizes the unique challenges faced by different sectors within the hospitality industry.