Labour calls for tourist tax to be introduced

Labour has urged the Scottish Government to bring forward plans for a tourist tax in Scotland after councils backed the move.

The party said the levy on hotel stays would enable local authorities to raise tens of millions of pounds in extra revenue.

Council leaders unanimously agreed last week that local government umbrella body Cosla should start lobbying ministers for the introduction of a transient visitor tax.

Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon has written to Communities Secretary Angela Constance on the issue.

Communities Secretary Angela Constance
Communities Secretary Angela Constance (Jane Barlow/PA)

"Our local communities are in serious need of additional funding," she said.

"Cuts to local authorities in this year's budget mean extremely difficult choices ahead. Those hit hardest by cuts are the poorest groups who are more reliant on a range of public services.

"We urgently need to look at new ways for local authorities to raise funds, including a tourist tax.

"I believe councils, who understand their local industry and area, should have the choice to ask visitors for a bit more to make sure local services are properly funded."

A tourist tax was included in Labour's recent 2018/19 budget proposals, with the party stating a tax charged per night per person at a maximum of £2 per night would raise up to £70 million a year.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We have been consistent in our stance that, given the potential impact on tourism, we have no plans to introduce visitor levy on the tourism sector, which is already subject to the second highest VAT rates in Europe by the UK Government."

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