Local authorities empowered to invest in tourism.

view to edinburgh castle from pompadour

Visitor Levy Bill passed

MSPs have backed legislation giving councils a new power to introduce a visitor levy that would raise funding for local visitor facilities and services.

The Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill will enable local authorities to apply a levy on overnight stays with all money raised to be reinvested in services and facilities largely used by tourists and business visitors.

view to edinburgh castle from pompadour

Similar levies already apply in tourist destinations across Europe, including Amsterdam and Berlin as well as in countries outside of Europe, such as Canada.

Councils that want to introduce a visitor levy will be able to do so after they have consulted with local communities, businesses and tourism organisations.

An 18-month implementation period will then apply before any local authorities can introduce a visitor levy scheme in their area. This is to provide adequate time for councils and businesses to put in place the systems needed to collect and administer a levy.

An expert group of representatives from the tourism industry, COSLA and other partners will continue to work together to produce guidance for local authorities putting in place a visitor levy scheme.

Investment Minister Tom Arthur said:

“We share a vision with the tourism industry for Scotland to be a global leader in tourism and one of the most economically, environmentally and socially sustainable destinations in the world. A visitor levy can help achieve that vision by empowering councils to raise funding, if they wish to do so, that can be invested in local visitor services and activities.

“This Bill has been a clear example of partnership working between the Scottish Government, local authorities and the tourism industry, in line with the New Deal for Local Government and New Deal for Business.

“We have sought to deliver as much flexibility to local authorities as possible and to listen to businesses to make it as easy as possible for them to adopt these measures.”

 

 

Background

Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill

The earliest a visitor levy could come into force would be spring 2026.

As a result of amendments supported by the Scottish Government at stage 3, the Bill will include:

an exemption from paying a visitor levy for people in receipt of disability benefits from the UK or Scottish Governments.

a power for Ministers to cap the number of nights to which a visitor levy would apply, after consultation with councils, tourism businesses and tourism organisations and after Parliamentary approval .

a requirement for any council setting up a visitor levy scheme to establish a visitor levy forum which will discuss and advise the council on matters related to a levy in its area.

a requirement for the Scottish Government to review the Visitor Levy Bill no later than three years after the date of the first scheme coming into effect

 

Emma

Emma

Hello!

I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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