UK Hospitality disputes Edinburgh City Council tourist tax claims

UK Hospitality (UKH) has said it is “concerned” at the assertion made by City of Edinburgh Council that 51% of accommodation providers in the city are supportive of a tourist tax or transient visitor levy (TVL).  

It comes after the council revealed it received over 2,500 responses to its eight-week public consultation held at the end of 2018 which found 85% expressed strong support for the introduction of TVL or ‘tourist tax’ in the city. The figure are said to include a majority of Edinburgh-based businesses and accommodation providers.

The proposal, which suggests a charge of either 2% or £2 per room per night, chargeable all year round on all forms of accommodation including short-term lets, could raise between £11.6m and £14.6m per year.

However the director of the hospitality association Willie MacLeod has called those claims into question. He said UKH is “in no doubt” that the vast majority of accommodation businesses in the city (including hotels, serviced apartments, B&B’s, hostels and self-catering properties) are opposed to a TVL.

MacLeod said this is clear from among the independent operators and larger chains in UKH membership and from the membership of the Edinburgh Hotels Association.

He said: “The council fails to make clear that the survey response refers to 87 of the 170 accommodation businesses that responded to the council’s survey and representing, respectively, 4% and 8% of the city’s accommodation businesses. It would be helpful if the council made clear which types of accommodation businesses have responded.

“The Scottish government is in the midst of conducting a national discussion on TVL and has been clear that is has no plans for the introduction of any such tax on consumers which will be payable by residents of Scotland as well as by visitors to the country.”

He continued: “Instead of pushing ahead with its proposals  for the introduction and administration of a TVL, the City of Edinburgh Council would do well to await the outcome of the government’s deliberations on the principle of such a tax which, if to be taken forward, will require clarification of many unanswered questions, primary legislation, and formal consultation which will, hopefully, take more account of the views of an industry which understands its consumers than has the City Council.”

Hotel Owner has reached out to City of Edinburgh Council and is awaiting comment.

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