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Tourist Tax - STA Position


“As the overarching representative body for tourism businesses in Scotland, the STA recognises that there is a need across most destinations for an increased level of long term sustainable investment to enable quality marketing of the destinations and to help continually raise the quality of the offering, visitor experience and overall appeal of the destination. That said, the STA remains firmly of the view that applying any further regulated costs to visitors is not a sensible approach to take.It should also be noted that tourism business already contribute significantly towards these agendas both by way of contribution to providing support funding to their local destination marketing bodies, investing in their own direct marketing of the property which of course benefits other business in the destination. In addition to this many business also contribute to local BIDs to enhance the place over and above the high business rates paid.
We are pleased that the Scottish Government continues to acknowledge our view on this and have stood by their position to not legislate to allow local authorities to introduce such levies.  If however, the government decides that a national debate or consultation on a tourism levy does become necessary, the STA and the industry bodies that we represent will participate fully.
We remain confident, that the findings of such a consultation and subsequent debate will demonstrate to all that the introduction of a tourism tax would put the future growth of our tourism visitor economy at risk, most certainly without the lowering other regulatory taxes.
While a tourism tax may work well for tourism businesses, destinations and local authorities in other global destinations where the level of VAT is below half of the UK, the idea must be examined within the context of the UK having the second highest VAT rates in Europe and indeed within what has been increasingly referred to as the ‘perfect storm’ of costs that tourism businesses in Scotland currently face.
We would also highlight that whilst the exchange rates are currently favorable for our international markets, the fact remains that around 60% of Scotland’s tourism spend comes from our already squeezed domestic market.  What is that tipping point for domestic consumer spend within the tourism sector of an overpriced economy?  In the event there were to be a national debate and consultation this, and other evidence needs to be brought into the argument within the context of the value of tourism to the Scottish economy and as our biggest employer.
We believe that the introduction of a tourism tax would reduce the competitiveness of our already heavily taxed sector relative to competitor destinations and ultimately could have a potentially devastating long-term impact on Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies.  It would also in our opinion negatively impact businesses that rely on the tourism economy beyond the hospitality sector by reducing visitor spending right across the industry; in pubs, restaurants, shops, cafes, visitor attractions.  
The need for Scotland to remain, and indeed become more competitive as a destination for visitors to travel to and spend money in is now greater than ever in relation to our impending exit from the EU.  Applying an additional taxation to visitors is not the answer.”

Last Modified: Monday 04 June 2018 07:07
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