New councils urged to support hospitality

Shelve tourist tax plans and help promote careers, says UK Hospitality Scotland ahead of local elections on 5th May

busy bar

SHELVE plans for a tourist tax, help promote hospitality careers in schools and colleges, and streamline the planning process to support business growth – those are among the key ‘asks’ of trade group UK Hospitality Scotland ahead of the Scottish local elections on 5th May.

UK Hospitality Scotland’s Manifesto 2022: Revitalising Local Communities document outlines ten policies it wants incoming local authorities and councillors to adopt which it said will “support hospitality businesses and, in turn, drive recovery, employment and investment across Scotland”.

Key among the measures is for councils across Scotland to “work collaboratively with business and key stakeholders to avoid imposing excessive regulations such a tourist tax and night-time levies on taxis”. It was reported earlier this week that Edinburgh City Council is likely to introduce a tourist tax if the if the SNP holds power in May’s election.

UK Hospitality Scotland also wants local authorities to promote the hospitality industry’s ongoing work to address recruitment challenges and is urging them to “actively promote hospitality jobs and skills through local authority channels, including careers advice and information campaigns”.

And it is calling on councils to “take a permissive approach to planning applications to support business growth with a rapid, streamlined response; include a commitment to support hospitality businesses within local licensing and planning policies, such as a permanent extension of pavement and takeaway licensing; deliver a more efficient, low-cost public transport system that supports business and resident needs; and provide discretionary business rates relief to businesses struggling post-pandemic”.

UK Hospitality Scotland executive director, Leon Thompson, said the hospitality industry can help “revitalise communities and drive recovery”.

“Pre-COVID, our sector created £6 billion of new economic activity each year, added a further £3 billion to the local supply chain and employed 285,000 people,” he said.

“We’re confident that, with the right support measures in place, hospitality businesses will bounce back stronger, and deliver growth and investment across Scotland once more.”