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Editor’s Viewpoint: Tourism Tax Rears Its Head?

Peter Adams, Editor of CLH News

Peter Adams, Editor of CLH News

I read recently that May 30th is Tax Freedom Day! Everything we earn from 1st of January to 29th of May goes to the Government in tax.

After which we get to keep what we earn. It is not my intention to use these pages to discuss the U.K.’s current tax system. However, I do genuinely despair when I see politician after politician wanting to solve every issue raised by taxing more and more.

A new “wonderful idea” by politicians in Scotland is the proposed introduction of a tourism tax, which in reality is a commercial accommodation tax.

Yes, Scottish Labour Party are proposing an additional £2 per person per night tax on people staying in accommodation.

I read that a “senior councillor” in Scotland has suggested it would raise millions. Unfortunately that is the type of society we live in now – one person raises an issue, and everybody seems to run with it. I searched to see if this councillor had put forward any proof that a further tax on hotels would raise “millions”, it is a question I often ask now: “What evidence do you have to back up what you say?”

Suffice to say I have seen nothing whatsoever – I never do! A “senior councillor” makes a suggestion and that is it!

A few years back I was involved in an objection to a town centre “entertainment complex”, and had to speak and listen to various parties including councillors at the planning application stage. I was astounded that the level of naivety and how unsuited many “councillors” were for the roles that they were in. Aside from the fact they had no basic knowledge on the subject in debate, they would actually throw in totally unsubstantiated comments based on what I felt was “speculative opinion”.

Willie Macleod, Executive Director of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) in Scotland, wrote a scathing letter in response to the proposed tax, which appears our website. The first common-sense point in the letter is that hotels will be unfairly penalised by charging the tax, when other businesses which also benefit from tourism will not be. He also adds that these businesses are now having to come to terms with the National Living Wage and auto enrolment for pensions.

However, the real point to be made, for the whole of the United Kingdom to Scotland, is that the UK is already a high tax destination for visitors and is ranked by the World Economic Forum as 140th out of 141 countries in terms of tourism price-competitiveness.

Second to bottom in the rankings for tourism price competitiveness! And yet we have a “senior councillor” who thinks it a good idea to add an additional tax and actually thinks it will raise millions!

My biggest fear is that should this tax been introduced in Scotland it will not be too long before it rears its ugly head in the rest of the UK!

Peter Adams
Editor of CLH News

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