Highland levy plans ‘harmful’

Tourist tax will put hospitality sector under more pressure

Highland Council has confirmed that it will introduce a visitor levy

A HIGHLAND hotelier has criticised the council’s decision to introduce a transient visitor levy (TVL) – or tourist tax – saying it will hit Scottish tourism.

Highland Council last month announced that it will push ahead with a levy following a public consultation.

In a statement the council said that nearly two thirds of respondents to an online consultation backed a levy, with most of the support coming from residents.

The introduction of such levies has been strongly opposed by hospitality and tourism trade groups.

And speaking to SLTN Emmanuel Moine, general manager of the Glen Mhor Hotel and chair of the Inverness Hotels Association, said he is “disappointed, surprised and a bit upset” by the council’s decision.

He said the hospitality industry in the area now has “a pile of problems that we will have to face”, including Brexit, which he said has already caused “huge problems” with staff recruitment.

“We have lots of problems, lots of difficulties; and a TVL (transient visitor levy) is another to come up,” said Moine.

“And when Scotland is already a very expensive destination, we are going to make it even more difficult [for people to visit].

“It’s not helping.

“Yes there are a lot of cities and countries doing it. You could talk about Berlin, about Italy, but it’s not the same picture at all. It’s not the same market.”

Willie Macleod, executive director for Scotland at UK Hospitality, said any additional tax “will only undermine Scotland’s, and the Highlands’, tourism offer and pile more costs on businesses”, adding that other countries with levies have far lower rates of VAT than the UK.

“The survey carried out by Highland Council was one-sided, opaque and gives no breakdown of who would be responsible for a tax,” he said.

“It is pointless for any local authority in Scotland to be pushing forward with any measures to introduce a tourist tax until we have had clarity from the Scottish Government, anyway.”