Friday, June 14, 2024
Friday, June 14, 2024
HomeNewsBusiness NewsHolyrood Committee Backs Visitor Levy Bill at Stage 1

Holyrood Committee Backs Visitor Levy Bill at Stage 1

The principles of the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill, which would permit Scottish local authorities to impose an overnight accommodation levy after thorough consultation, received support at the end of December from the Holyrood Committee debating the bill.

A majority of the Parliament’s Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee members found it “unlikely that the introduction of a levy in certain local authority areas, assuming a relatively modest rate, would have a deterrent effect on visitor numbers and therefore on the visitor economy in Scotland,” according to the committee’s Stage 1 Report, which was released today. Miles Briggs and Pam Gosal did not support several of the report’s conclusions or the general principles behind the Bill.

The Committee acknowledged that businesses were concerned about the legislation’s timing in light of the effects of COVID-19 on Scotland’s tourism industry, rising operating expenses, and recent modifications to short-term rental licensing. The Report said the Committee was “mindful of the concerns of accommodation providers that the introduction of a levy could result in an additional administrative burden” and welcomed the Bill’s requirements to implement localised monitoring and reporting to ensure transparency and accountability.

Although the Committee welcomed the Bill’s mandate to establish localised monitoring and reporting in order to guarantee accountability and transparency, it was “mindful of the concerns of accommodation providers that the introduction of a levy could result in an additional administrative burden.”

The Committee invited the Scottish Government to conduct additional research on this section of the Bill in order to find a workable solution, noting that deciding whether any levy should be a flat rate or a percentage rate was “perhaps the most difficult aspect of the Bill in terms of determining what the right approach should be.”

The majority of Committee members agreed that “meaningful consultation with the tourism and accommodation sector to create a genuine sense of partnership working” would “help alleviate the concerns of many in the sector.”

The earliest date a visitor levy could be applied by local authorities is 2026, which a majority of members of the Committee considered would provide enough time for any “outstanding issues to be resolved through engagement and consultation” with businesses and other key stakeholders. However, the Committee also invited the Scottish Government to respond to suggestions from some councils that they should be able to introduce a levy sooner than 2026.

Committee Convener, Ariane Burgess MSP said, “In supporting the Visitor Levy Bill at Stage 1, a majority of the members of the Committee recognise its potential to positively impact Scotland’s tourism sector.

“After thorough consultation and consideration, most members of the Committee have supported the core principles of the legislation, emphasising that a well-designed levy, at a modest rate, shouldn’t discourage visitors and should bring benefits for the tourism sector.

“A majority of the members of the Committee welcomed and support the flexibility provided by the Bill, which will enable local authorities to customise the levy’s implementation meaning that local levies are designed to suit local circumstances.

“Understanding concerns from businesses and being mindful of possible administrative burdens, a majority of members of the Committee believe that industry worries can be resolved through constructive engagement and consultation at the local level, ahead of any levy being introduced in 2026.

“For the majority of the members of the Committee the Visitor Levy Bill has the potential to be a positive force for the tourism sector, and thank the individuals, organisations and other stakeholders who provided evidence to inform this report.”

 

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