Visitor levy will be breakthrough for local authorities

The visitor levy will raise vital funds for local services.

The introduction of the visitor levy will be a breakthrough moment for local authorities, says Scottish Green MSP Ariane Burgess.

Ms Burgess, who is the party’s local democracy spokesperson, was commenting ahead of the Bill being scrutinised today by the Local Government Housing and Planning Committee as part of its passage through parliament.

The Bill will allow local councils to introduce a visitor levy to hotels and other overnight accommodation, similar to schemes already in place in popular tourist destinations across the world including Paris, Barcelona and New York.

Support for the scheme is a longstanding Scottish Green campaign. It was secured by the party during budget negotiations in 2019, but was one of a number of Bills postponed due to the COVID pandemic.

Ms Burgess said: “Today’s detailed committee scrutiny is the next important step in giving local authorities the powers to raise additional funds for vital services.

“We are lucky that so many people want to visit Scotland, but this can put a strain on local services and communities. By applying a small visitor levy, we can ensure that visitors and not just local residents contribute to the cost. 

“The funds it raises can be reinvested in local services like public toilets and litter collection which benefit tourists as well as those of us who live here all year round. And a tourism sector needs to have a healthy supply of affordable homes so that it can attract the staff to provide services.

“Visitor levies are already common across Europe and beyond. A lot of visitors don't even notice when they pay it, and are happy to do so when they are visiting such fantastic places.

“I am proud that we are on the verge of delivering it in Scotland. It is a small charge that will make a big difference for our local authorities and our communities.

“It will be a breakthrough moment for local government, and is just one of the steps Scottish Greens are taking to give more powers to local communities, alongside giving local authorities the ability to double council tax on empty and second homes.”