Commenting on the consultation by the City of Edinburgh Council for a ‘Tourist Tax’, Brigid Simmonds OBE, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said:
“A consultation by the City of Edinburgh Council for a ‘Tourist Tax’ is of real concern to the beer and pub sector.
“In Scotland, our industry supports nearly 60,000 jobs and contributes £1.73bn to the economy – it is also a crucial part of the nation’s tourism offer, with a visit to a traditional pub ranking third on the list of things tourists do when they visit.
“Pubs have faced a number of challenges over the last decade and still face increasing and considerable tax pressures from a range of sources; particularly high beer duty, unfair business rates and VAT. Any introduction of a ‘Tourism Tax’ in Edinburgh will see tourists having less money to spend in the city and only add to the challenges. Any introduction must therefore be accompanied by a reduction in tax elsewhere. The UK ranks almost bottom on any list on price competitiveness for tourists and unlike most countries in the EU does not offer reduced VAT on either accommodation or food. We also have some of the highest rates of air passenger duty in the world.
“It is vital that any levy is hypothecated back into the sector to attract more visitors to the city and help those businesses which will be impacted by this tax.
“Scotland’s fantastic brewing industry has huge potential with some of the world’s great beers being produced right here. When tourists come to our pubs and sample our beer, they also go back home wanting to drink our beers which has helped grow our exports. Surely then we should be encouraging, rather than discouraging, tourists who visit and sometimes stay in one of Edinburgh’s many great pubs?
“On average, every pub contributes £100,000 to their local economy each year, and with tourism being such an important backbone to Edinburgh’s economy, a ‘Tourism Tax’ on one of Edinburgh’s most successful businesses could be bad news for the city.”