Transient visitor levy: consultation

Views sought on the principles of a local discretionary transient visitor levy or tourist tax.

5. Local Decision Making

5.1. Local Authorities Wishing To Implement A Visitor Levy

Once the necessary legislation has been put in place, our objective is that any local authority in Scotland can decide to implement the visitor levy in all or part of its local authority area.  The power will not extend to National Park Authorities or Community Councils. 

The National Discussion suggested that local authorities, before they can decide to impose the levy, should be required to demonstrate that they have given it adequate consideration and made adequate preparations.

Q19: A list of requirements that local authorities could be expected to meet before being able to introduce a visitor levy is summarised below.  

Do you agree or disagree with these options. (please tick the appropriate box)

If you have any other suggestion for requirements then please add these in the box below together with your reasons



Produce an initial statement of intention to consider introducing a visitor levy

A timeframe for introduction of at least one financial year following conclusion of consultation and engagement activities

Have held a consultation in their local area to gather views from all those who will be affected by the visitor levy

Have conducted required impact assessments

Have assessed the administrative burden on businesses and taken steps to minimise this

If the legislation allows the rate to be set locally the local authority has demonstrated why the chosen rate of the visitor levy is optimal for that area

Have appropriate mechanisms in place to allow visitor levies collected to be remitted to the local authority

Have made information about the visitor levy and how to pay it available and in the public domain, for both business and visitors

The approach to collaborative decision making on revenue spending is set out in the public domain

Establish an approach to monitoring and publically reporting revenues raised and their expenditure on an annual basis

The approach to monitoring and reporting on the impact of the visitor levy on an annual basis, is clearly set out in the public domain

Establish an approach to evaluating and publically reporting, the impact of the visitor levy, within a reasonable period after introduction

Please add any other comments on the requirements listed above 

Please list any other requirements you think might be necessary, together with reasons below:

During the National Conversation we heard views expressed that a local authority’s decision to apply a visitor levy should be subject to national oversight.  This conflicts with our commitment to enhance local decision making, but we accept there may be extreme circumstances where this could be appropriate and we would welcome views.

Q20: Should Scottish Government be able to prevent a local authority from applying a visitor levy? 



Don’t Know

Q21: Under what circumstances should Scottish Government be able to do this?

Please provide a reason (or reasons) for your answer:

5.2. How Revenues Should be Spent

In section 1.2, we set out that the application of a visitor levy should be for individual local authorities to determine, and that receipts raised must fund local authority expenditure.  Reflecting the National Discussion, such receipts should be spent on tourism related activities including responding to tourism pressures, in their local authority area.  In essence, this means that revenues raised by a local authority choosing to apply a visitor levy would be retained by that local authority and not be subject to any pooling or redistribution.

This is a radical departure from the established financing mechanisms for local government in Scotland which has a system of equalisation at its heart, intended to ensure all local authorities have the capacity to deliver equivalent levels of service.  The hypothecation of receipts to spend on a particular activity is also a radical departure from the wider system of government finance in Scotland and indeed the rest of the UK

The National Discussion highlighted the importance placed by the tourist industry on ensuring that decisions made about how revenues are spent are both transparent and engage local stakeholders.  Indeed, emphasis was placed on the importance of a partnership approach between local authorities and the local tourism industry about how and where revenue is spent. 

Q22: What requirements might be placed on local authorities to engage with local stakeholders to determine how revenues are spent?

Please provide a reason (or reasons) for your answer:

Q23: How might this engagement be best achieved?

Please provide a reason (or reasons) for your answer:

We are aware that requiring receipts to be spent on ‘tourism related activities including responding to tourism pressures’ is open to interpretation and could cover a broad range of activity.  For example, depending on the local authority this might be extra street cleaning during the peak tourist season, additional road maintenance in response to increased traffic volumes, or additional funding for local destination promotion or, where one exists, towards a local tourism strategy.  A number of local authorities across Scotland have developed distinct tourism strategies in recent years, involving participation from the local tourism industry and stakeholders.  

The Scottish Government is of the view that, where such tourism strategies exist, local authorities should allocate revenues from visitor levies towards delivering the priorities articulated within these strategies. 

Q24: Should revenues from a visitor levy be allocated to priorities articulated through local tourism strategies, where they exist?



Don’t Know

Please provide a reason (or reasons) for your answer:

Overall, we also consider that ensuring some degree of transparency on the way receipts are spent is essential.  This might have a further benefit of securing wider community support for the local tourism industry.

Q25: What reporting arrangements might be required of local authorities to account for the expenditure of receipts from a visitor levy?

Please provide a reason (or reasons) for your answer:

Q26: If a local authority was to impose a visitor levy on a specific area within the authority, should any revenue raised have to be spent only in that area? 



Don’t Know

Please provide a reason (or reasons) for your answer:



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