Commenting on the announcement in the Scottish Budget that the Scottish Government are to bring forward legislation for Transient Visitor Levies, Brigid Simmonds, CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said:
“This move by the Scottish Government for a ‘Tourist Tax’ is of real concern to the beer and pub sector.
“In Scotland, our industry supports over 66,000 jobs and contributes £1.66bn to the economy annually – 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. Any impact on visitors will trickle down directly to our sector.
“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 Scotland would discourage visitors, see tourists having less money to spend during their visit and only add to the current challenges and uncertainty. 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.
“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 to record levels. Surely then we should be encouraging, rather than discouraging, tourists who visit and sometimes stay in one of Scotland’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 Scotland’s economy, a ‘Tourism Tax’ on one of the country’s most successful businesses would be bad news. The tax contribution of the hospitality industry in Scotland is extremely high. Introducing a tourist tax will be very detrimental and a disincentive for visitors.”