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.
Tributes have been paid to The Highland Council's Director of Care and Learning, Bill Alexander who retires on 19 October after eighteen years leading the council's Care and Learning Services. At the Council's Care and Learning meeting held on Thursday 18 October 2018, Chair of the Committee, Cllr Andrew Baxter; and Leader of the Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson praised Mr Alexander for his long service to the Council.
The Highland Council has paid tribute to Mr Des Devine, former Surveyor at the Council who died earlier this week. Steve Barron, Chief Executive said: "It is with great sadness that we heard that Des Devine passed away this week after a long and brave battle with cancer.
Following a pre-planning drop-in session at the end of September 2018, The Highland Council has given the public a further 28 days to share their views and comment on the proposal for a new Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at the Longman landfill site in Inverness. The public can now visit the Council's website to find out more about the MRF and to share their views on the proposal.
Dr James Vance, Head Teacher at Culloden Academy has been appointed as interim Head of Education Services with The Highland Council's Care and Learning Service. Dr Vance, who starts his new employment in January 2019, will be based at the Council's headquarters on Glenurquhart Road, Inverness.
The Highland Council has submitted a planning application for a low head hydroelectric development at the Torvean Weir on the River Ness at land 430m south west of Highland Rugby Club, on Bught Road, Inverness Using an Archimedes screw the hydroelectric scheme will have a generating capacity of up to 100kW and an average annual renewable energy output of approximately 600,000 kWh per annum. The renewable energy generated will return an income to the Council through the Feed in Tariff mechanism and be connected to the local Archive Centre and leisure centre.
The Highland Council is carrying out the formal review of its Polling Districts and Places. This review is required in terms of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 as all polling districts and polling places should be reviewed at least every four years.
Joint operation identifies poor standards of food safety and staff living accommodation. Highland Council Environmental Health Officers were required to take formal enforcement action regarding poor standards of food safety during a recent multi-agency operation led by Immigration Enforcement.
The Highland Council has appointed a new Chief Executive. The successful candidate is Donna Manson, currently Service Director for Children and Young People in the Scottish Borders.
Local services throughout Scotland could be plunged into crisis after - UNISON, Unite and the GMB - wrote to COSLA to say they will recommend their members reject their revised pay offer when they consult them in the coming weeks. The revised pay offer, made by COSLA on 6th September 2018, was a 3% increase for all local government workers earning up to £80,000, but the trade unions are angry that this is below inflation and does not improve low pay.
Members have discussed the consultation and proposed response to a review of the structure of the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme. The Highland Council Pension Fund is one of eleven constituent funds of the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme.
[Printer Friendly Version]