The Principles of a Local Discretionary Transient Visitor Levy or Tourist Tax

This report presents findings from the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Principles of a Local Discretionary Transient Visitor Levy or Tourist Tax. The consultation ran from 9 September to 2 December 2019.

1. Introduction

This report presents analysis of responses to the Scottish Government's consultation on the Principles of a Local Discretionary Transient Visitor Levy or Tourist Tax.

The consultation paper notes that while tourism is one of Scotland's most important industries, pressures associated with high numbers of visitors in some areas have led some local authorities to call for powers to collect a local visitor levy or tourist tax.

In November 2018 the Scottish Government launched a National Discussion, engaging with a range of partners and stakeholders from the tourist industry, local authorities and the wider business community.[3] Evidence collected during the National Discussion informed development of the proposals around a discretionary local visitor levy.

The consultation sought to develop the Scottish Government's understanding of the issues and concerns highlighted during the National Discussion and to help inform the development of legislation to provide discretionary power to local authorities to apply a visitor levy, should that be considered appropriate to local circumstances.

The consultation ran from 9 September to 2 December 2019. The consultation paper is available from the Scottish Government's website at:

Profile of respondents

In total, 1,701[4]responses were available for analysis.

Of these, 1,202 were based on a Living Rent-related campaign. These campaign responses did not address any of the questions set out within the consultation directly and, while covered briefly at the beginning of Chapter 3, they are not discussed elsewhere in this report.

In addition, two other types of campaign response were received. One was based on endorsing the response submitted by the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA), with 23 responses submitted. The other, associated with UK Hospitality, received 45 responses. Both of these campaigns answered a number of the consultation questions and, taken together, were the source of a significant proportion of the responses received from accommodation providers. Given this, these responses have been included within the question-by-question analysis presented below, including for the results at closed questions.

In addition to the two sets of campaign responses, 431 standard responses were received. In total, therefore, 499 responses are covered by the main question-by-question analysis. Of these, 275 responses were from individual members of the public and 224 were from groups or organisations.

Organisational respondents have been allocated to one of fifteen categories by the analysis team and the Scottish Government[5]. If an organisation submitted a response to either the BH&HPA or UK Hospitality-related campaign, they have been assigned an organisation type.

A breakdown of the number of responses received by respondent type is set out in Table 1 below and a full list of organisational respondents can be found in Annex 1.

Table 1

Respondents by type


Accommodation provider (hotel)


Accommodation provider (other)


Business organisation


Community council or residents' association


Heritage or culture organisation


Local authority




Other representative organisation


Other tourism or hospitality business or organisation


Port authority


Professional body


Public body


Tourism and hospitality industry representative organisation


Tourism development or promotion organisation


Trades union, political party or campaign organisation


Total organisations




All respondents (for main analysis)


A diverse range of organisations responded to this consultation, from international hotel groups and local authorities to independent B&Bs and community councils. Other points to note about the profile of respondents are that:

  • In this case more than half of organisation respondents (52%) and almost a quarter of all respondents (23%) are in one of the two Accommodation provider respondent groups.
  • The Accommodation provider (other) respondent group includes B&Bs, guest houses, self-catering providers, caravan parks and campsite businesses.
  • Further, the comments of a number of Individual respondents suggest that they are connected with the tourist industry and, in particular, may be accommodation providers.
  • Other Individual respondents identified themselves as being people who are resident in parts of the country where there can be a concentration of visitors or tourist activity – for example in Edinburgh, or on Skye.
  • The Local authority group includes the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).
  • A number of organisational respondents, including from within the Business organisation, Tourism and hospitality industry representative organisation and Other representative organisation groups noted that their responses drew on the views of their members.

As with any public consultation exercise, it should be acknowledged that those responding generally have a particular interest in the subject area and the views they express cannot be seen as representative of wider public opinion.

Analysis and reporting

The remainder of this report presents a question-by-question analysis and is designed to give an overview of the type and range of views expressed. Given this focus, all respondents' comments have been given equal weight.

Please note that the language used within the report generally reflects that used by respondents, particularly in relation accommodation industry specific references or terms.

A small number of respondents did not respond to the consultation questionnaire but submitted their comments in a statement-style format. This content was analysed qualitatively under the most directly relevant consultation question.

Respondents sometimes expressed support or disagreement with the principle of a visitor levy. This was particularly the case at Questions 1 or 2, but some respondents restated their position at subsequent questions. To avoid repetition, a brief summary of the arguments made for or against a visitor levy is set out at the beginning of Chapter 3.

Finally, please note that the percentages set out in the tables may not always sum to 100% due to rounding.



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