Visitor levy legislation passes first stage

Visitor levy legislation passes first stage

Legislation which would give councils the power to introduce a visitor levy to raise funding for local tourism facilities and services has passed its first vote at Holyrood.

MSPs have voted to endorse the general principles of the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill, which would enable councils to apply a levy on overnight stays in line with many tourist destinations across Europe. All money raised would be reinvested in facilities and services that are substantially used by visitors, benefitting tourists and local economies.

The proposals were backed in a consultation led by the Scottish Government. Should they wish to use the powers, councils would be required to consult local communities, businesses and tourism organisations on whether a visitor levy should be brought in and how any revenue should be spent.

Representatives from the tourism industry, COSLA, the Scottish Government and other partners have formed an expert group to consider how the legislation could be best implemented if passed.

Speaking after the stage one vote, public finance minister Tom Arthur said: “I strongly believe that a visitor levy can be a force for good, offering councils the opportunity to use the proceeds to invest in their local economy, bringing benefits to residents and visitors alike.

“This bill is about giving local government a new power, which they can use as appropriate. It fits with our ambition of fiscally empowering local government and strengthening local democracy, and the New Deal for Business and the New Deal for Local Government are at the heart of the Scottish Government’s approach to this measure.

“We have already taken on board the helpful input we have had from business, councils and others and I am committed to continuing that meaningful and constructive engagement as we move forward.”

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