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02 June 2016

Small firms turn down tourism bed tax

Scotland’s £9.7 billion tourist industry is present in almost every community in the country, indeed many rural towns and villages depend almost entirely on the visitor economy to sustain them.

While other industries have waxed and waned, tourism has shown remarkable resilience over recent decades. The adaptability of the myriad small businesses that comprise our tourism industry mean that it has not only survived, but thrived. Photo Credit David Richardson

This does not mean that we can’t aspire to an even stronger tourism sector and conversely can’t undermine its success.

We can all point to the great qualities that draw visitors to Scotland like the superb natural beauty, the friendliness of the people and the quality of the experience. However we must also recognise our relative weaknesses that discourage others from coming here: things like the weather, midges, relative remoteness, and, sadly, cost.

Some of our shortcomings are beyond our control and sometimes it will rain in July. Some however are not. 

Scotland is not a place for a bargain break for foreign visitors for the UK is the second most expensive holiday destination in the developed world after Switzerland. Additional transport costs make the Highlands & Islands more expensive still.

Photo Credit David Richardson

It is therefore a matter of grave concern to Scottish tourism businesses that instead of focussing on making Scotland more competitive, some politicians are regularly arguing that small businesses should levy a tax on visitors for each night of their stay.

It has been suggested that a tourist bed tax would relieve pressure on stretched council finances however FSB members think that they are playing with fire.

Indeed, new FSB research reveals that 82% of Scottish businesses from all sectors are against the proposal; in the Highlands its 92%, with 95% saying that its introduction would have a detrimental impact on the local economy given the vital role that tourism plays here.

Such a charge would make our country a less attractive place to visit from overseas while undermining moves to sell Scotland as a great place for a break across these islands.

Let’s put proposals for a tourism tax to bed once and for all. 

 

David Richardson is FSB’s Development Manager for the Highlands and Islands

Lobbying & Campaigning from FSB

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