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Visitor levy (Tourist Tax) consultation welcomed

3rd October 2018

The Scottish Government's announcement of a consultation on the introduction of a visitor levy ("tourist tax") has been welcomed by The Highland Council.

Convener Bill Lobban recently gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, where he emphasised the importance of tourism to the Highlands. He said: "Tourism is our most important and valuable industry, worth over £1.2Bn per annum to the Highland economy. We have seen significant increases in visitor numbers in recent years and we aim to continue to build on these successful trends.

“I very much welcome the Scottish Government’s plans for a consultation on the pros and cons of introducing a visitor levy. If this consultation exercise is to genuinely look at the all the issues of introducing a visitor levy, then it needs to be wide ranging in its scope and inclusive of both public and tourism operators alike.

“The Highland region is vast and provides the most spectacular scenery you could see anywhere in the world. We want to provide the best possible facilities and infrastructure and whilst we welcome the huge numbers of visitors, this increase inevitably puts more pressure on our roads, parking, amenities and public conveniences, at a time when council resources are stretched more than ever.

“It is clear that we need to increase the resources available to deliver a high quality visitor experience in a highly competitive tourism sector. A visitor levy could help to fund the investment we desperately need."

Tourism is the Highlands' most significant industry generating £1.2billion for the Highland economy and employing over 20,000 people in 2017. The sector has seen growth of a quarter since 2014 and initial indications such as visits to visitor attractions in Highland which were up 12% to the end of July suggest this growth has continued in 2018.

A report will be brought to the Council meeting in December with a recommendation that we engage will all communities, businesses and individuals to gauge their thoughts on the introduction of a visitor levy.

 

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