How should the Tourist Tax be spent? Update

Update by Sally Millar, Secretary , LLCC

I recently attended an online discussion meeting on how Edinburgh City Council should set up the forthcoming ‘tourist tax’ AKA ‘Visitor Levy’, and how the monies collected should be spent. This was illuminating, as I had not previously understood how constrained City of Edinburgh Council is by the underlying Scottish Government legislation, which states  –

  • The use of the net proceeds must relate to developing, supporting or sustaining facilities and services which are substantially for, or used by, persons visiting the local authorities area for leisure purposes.
  • In using the net proceeds, the council needs to consult on how this is spent and give regard to any local Tourism Strategy. 

Scottish Government has not yet finalised some aspects of the legislation and is being very heavily lobbied by the tourism and hospitality lobby. Personally, I think citizens and residents of our city should also be lobbying hard, to make sure that the tax benefits ALL in the city not just tourists/visitors and the tourism industry. I do believe now that Edinburgh City Council IS genuinely trying to listen to citizens and to get the balance right as best it can within the constraints of the legislation.

The Council is doing some ‘informal’ consulting to collect a range of views. There will be a bigger and more formal consultation later, but by then some of the key decisions will already have been made, probably, so better to get in NOW with your views.

Please take time to fill in this survey:

The Council recognises that it needs to reword some of its proposals and also probably to simplify the whole process so that it is clear and understandable and not too complicated or expensive to administer. So don’t be too alarmed by some of the questions (there is a ‘don’t know’ option for most of them anyway), but please do plough on to the later stages of the survey, about how the monies should be spent.

All the Community Councils in the recent discussion meeting worked hard to stress very strongly to the council that the two areas entitled ‘City Services’ and ‘City Infrastructure’ are the two highest priority areas to which spending should be directed. And that the other areas proposed should be omitted entirely or slimmed down substantially, both for simplicity and also for fairness to city residents. If you agree, please help by reinforcing this point in your response.