Visitor levy will raise vital funds for local services

The option of applying a visitor levy will be a big boost for local authorities.

Allowing councils to apply a visitor levy will raise vital funds for local services which are often under huge pressure due to tourist numbers, says Scottish Greens finance spokesperson Ross Greer MSP.

The comments come as the Scottish Parliament prepares to debate Stage 1 of the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill, which would empower local councils to introduce a visitor levy to hotels and overnight accommodation, similar to schemes already in place across Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. 

The scheme was secured by the Scottish Greens during budget negotiations in 2019 but was one of a number of bills postponed due to the COVID pandemic.

Mr Greer said: “Scotland is incredibly fortunate to be such an attractive tourist destination, but this puts a huge strain on local services ranging from public toilets to bin collections. Tourists obviously don't pay council tax, so a small levy on their overnight stays is a fair way to ensure that local residents aren't left picking up the bill. 

“Visitor levies are already common across Europe and beyond, including in top destinations like Paris and Barcelona. It is a small charge that will make a big difference here in Scotland.

“This is just one of the steps Scottish Greens are taking in government to give more powers to local communities, alongside the ability to double council tax on holiday homes and the upcoming cruise ship levy.”