MacKay Hannah

A Tourism Tax for Scotland: Exploring the challenges and opportunities of a new levy

Thu 19th Mar 2020

Edinburgh, Edinburgh City Chambers

SUPPORTERS All Supporters

OVERVIEW View Conference Agenda

This conference examines how a Scottish tourism tax might be structured, how it could be operated, what the impact of such a tax would be and the potential benefits which may arise from the use of revenues from a tourism tax.

In November 2018 the Scottish Government launched a national consultation on tourism taxes in Scotland. This followed the First Minister's statement to the Scottish Tourism Alliance in which she said about a tourist taxt that "...we do recognise, as you do, that some local authorities are making the case to have the power to do so, should they consider it an appropriate response to local circumstances. ....we will be accepting the STA’s call for an objective process of consultation – involving the STA, COSLA and other key partners – which will examine in detail the arguments for and against a tourism tax." 1 October 2018, Scottish Tourism Alliance conference.

So what do the leading proponents of a tourism tax want to see available as a mechanism for local government? 

Local government funding faces increased demands year on year and the need to balance service delivery with economic development and economic growth is just one of those pressures. In that context tourist and business travellers bring tremendous investment into the Scottish economy - and also increase costs and requirements for councils associated with servicing those activities.

Is there a way to introduce a levy which can enhance and strengthen the tourist sector, help to improve the tourism experience and mitigate the effects of tourism on resident populations and services? Any new levy would need to balance the benefit of additional revenues and the importance of visitor economic value with the commercial challenges and needs of the accommodation and tourism sectors in particular.

What are the varying geographical local needs and challenges that such a levy might help to address? Would the role of local government and local strategic decision making be enhanced by such a power and would it help to develop more effective and genuinely local government? What would be the implications for local government funding and local taxation more broadly? 

This conference explores all of the above questions and also examines how the critical elements of a governance framework and an effective operational structure can be delivered to ensure that any new tax is seen to be effective, fair, consistent and transparent. 

Benefits of Attending

Delegates attending this conference will:

  • Hear from the leading proponents of a tourist tax
  • Discover why a tourist tax is being proposed now
  • Examine perspectives on drivers for a tourist tax from different parts of Scotland
  • Explore how a levy could help support and further develop Scotland's tourism base
  • Discuss what possible schemes might look like
  • Consider what governance structure and operational framework would be required
  • Learn about the wider economic considerations in the introduction of any additional tax
  • Understand how the wider context on issues such as local government funding, workplace parking and overall council funding mechanisms relate to a possible tourist tax

Who Should Attend

This conference will be relevant for anyone involved in local government and local government finance, tourism, economic development, environmental improvement, City/Region development, public services modernisation, hospitality and accommodation, Scottish festivals and events and other industries related to tourism and business travel such as transport, visitor attractions, restuarants and all short term accomodation providers.


Cllr Adam McVey

Leader, City of Edinburgh Council

Jackie McGuire

Partner, Brodies LLP

Councillor Cammy Day

Deputy Leader, City of Edinburgh Council

Councillor David Mellen

Leader, Nottingham City Council

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Add to Outlook

I was drawn to this briefing by the quality of speaker line up. All speakers were excellent and there was good coverage on all topics.

Andrew Wilson, Charlotte Street Partners,
Fraser of Allander Scotland's Budget Briefing, 26 September 2017

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