The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) have campaigned heavily over the last few months to bring about a reversal in the proposal to increase business rates.
We wrote to the First Minister and other Ministers demanding a need for a review of the business rates revaluation and have had regular dialogue with Scottish Government to convey our views, concerns and evidence from businesses on the devastating impact of the proposed Commercial Rateable Values on Scotland’s tourism industry.
We are hugely boosted and encouraged by the Finance Minister’s announcement of a 12.5% business rates cap for hospitality and licensed trade businesses of one year, a pragmatic move which will allow the Barclay Review group to report on its findings, and for a more equitable process for rates evaluation to be agreed and applied.
We know that this afternoon’s news will be welcomed by tourism businesses across Scotland, businesses which yesterday were facing serious financial challenges post-April and in many cases, closure and the loss of many jobs.
Tourism has been acknowledged by Scottish Government as being “Scotland’s most important industry”; today’s announcement underlines and highlights the government’s support for our industry and acknowledges the importance of tourism as the main economic driver in Scotland.
It is important that we as an industry continue to work together to bring about the changes that will enable our industry to prosper and grow and to support the creation of policies that will not only allow us to compete with the rest of the world, but put us on the front foot for getting ahead of the game.
This is hugely encouraging news and will undoubtedly offer tourism businesses confidence to continue to deliver these quality, authentic experiences for visitors during what is set to be a busy year for our industry.
We very much welcome today’s announcement and look forward to continuing our dialogue with Scottish Government, its agencies and tourism businesses over the coming weeks.