Plans to introduce a £2 tourist tax for Edinburgh have been welcomed by hoteliers with the majority expressing support for it.
A Transient Visitor Levy (TVL) has been on the cards for the capital, in line with other cities such as Berlin, Antwerp and Paris, which have imposed the ‘tourist tax’.
If given the green light, Edinburgh would become the first UK city to impose such a fee – although it is common for visitors to pay the rates in many European countries.
New figures show that the majority of hoteliers, B&B owners and other accommodation providers supported the tax and 85 per cent of people surveyed support the move.
The City of Edinburgh Council carried out an eight-week public consultation and received more than 2,500 responses.
Draft proposals suggest a charge of either £2 per room per night, or two per cent, chargeable all year round on all forms of accommodation, including short-term lets.
But it would be capped at seven nights, to avoid penalising performers at the Edinburgh Festival.
It is estimated that the model could raise between £11.6m and £14.6m per year.
More than half of accommodation providers supported the proposal, with 51 per cent agreeing with the tax.
Figures showed that 72 per cent of those surveyed agreed the tax should be set at a rate of around £2 a night or two per cent of the cost of accommodation.
But nearly a fifth of those surveyed felt this was too low.
And 81 per cent of respondents wanted to see at least a seven-day cap on charges to help protect festival performers and workers visiting for business reasons.
A final proposal on how the council hopes to take forward the scheme will now be developed for councillors to approve next month, before being passed to the Scottish Government.
Council leader Adam McVey said: “Once again, we are finding that there is a huge swell of support for a tourist tax in Edinburgh with residents and all types of business backing a scheme that is fair, sustainable and one which would be reinvested into the ongoing success of our tourism and hospitality industry and the services which matter most to local people.
“Edinburgh welcomes over four and a half million visitors annually, spending over £1.8bn.
“Our tourist economy is extremely strong and expected to continue to grow.
“A majority of businesses agree the vibrancy of our industry wouldn’t be threatened by a small levy but would benefit from the additional investment.
“Interestingly, this includes more than half of accommodation providers, dispelling fears in certain quarters that the industry wouldn’t support a TVL.
“As a council, we have a strong track record of investing in and supporting our cultural offering and heritage.
“But as the demands on our city increase, we will need a secure additional source of funding to sustainably invest in and manage the impact of this growth.
“Some 91 per cent of Edinburgh residents back our plans because they know it will help us better manage the pressures in the City and help protect their environment.
“We stand with residents in our support for a tourist levy for the good of our Capital.”
by Sarah Ward