Scottish Highlands tourist tax ‘could bring in up to £10m annually’

16 Aug 19

A tourist tax in the Scottish Highlands could raise up to £10m a year, the local council has said.

Highland Council launched a consultation on the potential scheme yesterday, saying it would help deal with “unprecedented budget pressures”.

Depending on how it was designed, the council said, the levy could generate between £5m and £10m a year.

Allan Henderson, who chairs the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee, said: “Highland welcomes visitors numbering roughly 25 times our resident population every year.

“While visitors are very welcome, some of Highland’s infrastructure and services are struggling under the pressure of these additional users.”

The Scottish Government has committed to making it possible for local authorities to implement tourist taxes by 2021.

In its pre-consultation document, Highland Council suggested the tax it could adopt would not be a ‘bed tax’ - solely collected by accommodation providers - because people on day trips, cruises or caravan users would not then pay it.

Alternative suggestions at a council workshop included ‘entry fees’ – such as road tolls - car park charges, motorhome permits and levies on ‘tourism businesses’, such as attractions and tours.

Henderson said: “Ultimately, the council, with the help of everyone who responds to the consultation, needs to decide what is better for our region: introducing a visitor levy, with its potential positive and negative impacts, or not implementing a visitor levy, avoiding potential negative impacts but limiting possible investment and therefore leaving the region with the problems we currently face.”

The consultation will run until 20 October.

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