The Scottish government is to consult on the introduction of a tourist tax that would be collected at the discretion of the country’s 32 local authorities and spent on activities related to tourism.
The proposed 2.5% tourism tax on accommodation should be introduced in Scotland rather than a flat rate, according to the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) who say an across the board tax would be much fairer.
It also opposes any plans to impose a tourism tax on day visitors, “because of the destructive impact this has had on the tourism industry in several other countries and because of the complexity and administrative burden that this would require.”
Phil Hall, AAT head of public affairs & public policy said: “A 2.5% charge would be much fairer than a flat rate fee and whilst it would mean a £2.60 a night charge on average in Edinburgh, it would amount to just £1.35 on average in Aberdeen.
“It’s not just fairer by region, it’s fairer for everyone when you consider the flat rate proposed by others would see those staying in a five-star hotel charged the same as those staying in a youth hostel – that simply isn’t fair or reasonable.”
AAT stressed the need to set the tax at an appropriate rate to ensure it raises funds for sustainable tourism whilst not discouraging tourism as it has done in some other places such as the Balearics where their tourism tax was doubled after only two years of operation or in relation to day visitors in Amsterdam where the flat rate €8 charge introduced this year has led to a steep fall in visitor numbers.
The AAT has also recommended that, “the Scottish Government give serious consideration to exempting all Scottish residents from a Scottish Tourist Tax,” because doing so, “would ensure domestic tourism is not discouraged, replicate what happens in many other countries and increase acceptability across the Scottish electorate.”
UKHospitality has warned against the Association of Accounting Technician’s (AAT) call for the introduction of a 2.5% tourist tax in Scotland.
Opposing the proposal UKHospitality Executive Director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “The AAT’s assertion that a 2.5% tourist tax in Scotland would somehow be “fair” is flawed. An additional tax burden on already hard-pressed accommodation providers would in no way be fair.
“The proposed tax would hit only hotels and would fail to address day visits or affect home-sharing platforms which increasingly make up many overnight stays. It would only disadvantage hospitality businesses that are already being squeezed at a time of huge economic and political instability.
“Any tourist tax would be an unwanted additional burden for businesses, but a 2.5% extra cost would be seriously harmful.
“Although the AAT is responding to the consultation, it did not make a written submission to the Scottish Government’s national discussion on the tourist tax. It is therefore disappointing to hear them put forth such an ill-informed suggestion so late in the day.”