Edinburgh to Launch Hotel Tax?

Edinburgh, a city famous for its arts festivals, may need to launch a tax on visitors in order to fund its iconic events. While there are no current plans to bring in new legislation for the plan, the Scotsman is reporting that some politicians are pushing for new rules.

The city council is almost certain to need the permission of the Scottish government to force hotels to pay for better marketing and reduce the cost to the taxpayer of the city’s festivals. But a government representative told The Scotsman that businesses are already paying enough tax and that the British tourism industry has much higher VAT levels to cope with than those in other parts of Europe.

Senior councillors who want hotels to help pay for the staging of major festivals and events in the city, as well as marketing initiatives, have admitted they may need new powers to bring in such a scheme. The authority voted in favor of a bed levy or tourism tax scheme last week, with officials tasked with producing a report early next year.

Under the proposals, a levy of £1 or £2 could be added to hotel bills, similar to taxes in other cities like Milan and Florence. An alternative scheme could see all businesses over a certain size asked to vote on whether to pay a voluntary extra levy on their rates on condition that it was ringfenced for tourism or marketing initiatives. The BBC is reporting that councillors will also explore a potential voluntary scheme.

A spokeswoman for the government told the paper that there are no current plans to introduce legislation to allow local authorities to levy a tourism tax.

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