Policy actions  3 of 3

Local visitor levy

In the 2022-2023 Programme for Government, we committed to introduce legislation to give local authorities the power to apply a visitor levy – often called a tourist tax. The Bill will create a discretionary power for local authorities to apply a levy on overnight visitor stays in accommodation, applying in all or part of their area, to help fund relevant local activities and services. The levy is a further example of our commitment to devolve more power to local government.

Tourism tax discussion

Between November 2018 and January 2019 we facilitated a national discussion on the issue of a tourism tax. This allowed all relevant and interested parties to share their views and evidence.

We hosted six roundtable events, chaired by ministers, where people were invited to share their views. We also invited stakeholders to provide written evidence. Over 130 individual written contributions were received from a range of stakeholders, including business representative organisations, individual business owners, local authorities, and interested third parties.

Aims and outcomes

The discussion process did not set out a position on whether a tourism tax is a positive or negative policy, either at a national or local level, and we did not seek to test an existing Scottish Government policy position on a tourism tax. 

The national discussion aimed to:

  • seek views on the need for, and purpose of, a tourism tax in Scotland, in the context of current challenges and future opportunities for supporting sustainable tourism in Scotland
  • encourage debate on available options for addressing underlying challenges and opportunities within Scotland’s sustainable tourism sector
  • encourage partners and stakeholders to provide and share evidence of probable impacts of a tourism tax on the tourism sector, visitor economy and local government
  • encourage partners and stakeholders to articulate challenges and issues that would need to be addressed, were devolution of a tourism tax power to the local authority level to be considered or taken forward

Through this discussion we supported a greater shared acknowledgement and understanding of the evidence, opportunities and challenges around a tourism tax from the perspectives of partners in local government, the tourism industry, and the wider stakeholder community. 


In November 2018 we published a paper to help inform and structure the discussion.

In March 2019 we published two documents collating messages and evidence received:

  • messages paper provides a high-level summary and includes anonymised summaries from each roundtable discussion
  • evidence paper is a collection of unedited evidence submitted by stakeholders 
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