MacKay Hannah

Scotland's New Tourism Tax: Exploring the challenges and opportunities of the new levy

Thu 27th Aug 2020

, Edinburgh City Chambers

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OVERVIEW View Conference Agenda

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This conference examines how Scotland's new tourism tax may 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. This conference is timed to coincide with publication of the Bill, will provide a platform to understand the Bill proposals and will discuss how the Bill may be amended or developed before becoming an Act.

On 3rd September 2019 Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister, Scottish Government, stated that "...I can confirm that in the year ahead we will consult on, and introduce, legislation to give councils the power to apply a transient visitor levy - often called a tourist tax. This will enable local authorities to introduce such a levy if they consider it right in their local circumstances." Programme for Government Statement, Scottish Parliament 3rd September 2019

The Scottish Government's draft Bill is expected to be published in the first quarter of 2020 - but what do 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 the 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 legislated for 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 the 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