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New report calls for tourist tax to fund public transport & better streets

Published 02 December 2019 by Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland

NEWS RELEASE
Embargoed until 00:01 on Monday 2 December 2019

NEW REPORT CALLS FOR TOURIST TAX TO FUND PUBLIC TRANSPORT & BETTER STREETS:
‘Tourist Duty’ survey results find strong support for investing in city infrastructure

A tourism tax in Edinburgh has won strong backing from residents, despite opposition from some businesses, a survey by sustainable transport charity Transform Scotland has found. [1] Nearly all respondents were aware of the £2 daily levy and claimed similar fees in European cities didn’t play any role when deciding to book holidays. Respondents to the online poll favoured using the revenues to invest in the city’s infrastructure, including improvements to streets and public transport. [2]

The findings have been published today (Monday 2 December) to coincide with the end of the Scottish Government’s public consultation on Transient Visitor Levies (TVL). [3]

The report is available at: http://transformscotland.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/The-Tourist-Duty-Transform-Scotland-report.pdf

Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said:

“There is global concern about the impacts of tourism, from fuelling the growth in aviation emissions, to the impacts that large tourist volumes have on fragile historic environments and ecosystems. 

“The volume of tourism is having severe impacts on Scotland’s transport system. During Edinburgh’s festivals, our bus network now routinely grinds to a halt. So it’s clear that something needs to be done to tackle the impacts of tourism in Scotland.

“Our report takes forward the debate on the Edinburgh TVL proposal by presenting additional public opinion on how the revenue from the scheme should be invested. We believe that a significant proportion of the TVL revenue should be invested in improving the City Centre public realm and in supporting public transport services.”

As part of the report, a survey was carried out of Edinburgh residents. Amongst the results were the following findings:

  • A majority (69%) report being frequently impacted by tourism
  • People think more can be done to manage tourism (87%)
  • Most would not be put off booking a holiday because of a TVL (89%)
  • People feel that TVL is a good way to protect the city and manage tourism (78%)
  • Investment in city infrastructure and green spaces gained the strongest support (42%).

The report author, Poppy Marples, said:

“TVL schemes are widespread across Europe, being in operation in 19 countries, and in our report we highlight the schemes in operation in Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Florence and Geneva.

“In Edinburgh, there is now strong public support for The City of Edinburgh Council’s proposals, and we conclude that it is now imperative for the Scottish Government to swiftly come forward with legislation to enable Local Authorities to implement TVL schemes that are appropriate to the local circumstances across Scotland. We note that while Edinburgh has an overheated tourism sector, there are other parts of Scotland where a TVL may not be appropriate.

“We are not persuaded by the hostility from the hospitality industry towards TVL proposals. We have seen no evidence that a TVL scheme in Edinburgh at a rate of £2.00 would impact on visitor numbers, and nor would we expect a charge less than the price of a coffee to have any impact on demand. In the report, we note that Florence has experienced further growth in visitor numbers since the introduction of a TVL scheme in 2011.”

‘Over-tourism’ is now a major global concern, with many cities and visitor attractions around the world struggling to cope with tourist volumes. In Transform Scotland’s ‘The Tourist Duty’ report, we explore the rationale for introducing a TVL, present case studies of TVL schemes across Europe, set out results of a survey of Edinburgh residents’ views on how TVL revenue should be invested, and make policy recommendations for the Scottish Government and Scottish Local Authorities.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

[1] Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland is the national alliance for sustainable transport, bringing together organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors. Our diverse membership brings together public, private and third sector organisations from across Scotland: <http://www.transformscotland.org.uk/who-we-are/our-members/>.

[2] Transport Scotland report ‘The Tourist Duty’

The report is available at: http://transformscotland.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/The-Tourist-Duty-Transform-Scotland-report.pdf

‘Over-tourism’ is now a major global concern, with many cities and visitor attractions around the world struggling to cope with tourist volumes. Nineteen countries across Europe have implemented ‘Transient Visitor Levies’ in order to respond to the pressures imposed upon them, and this idea has now attracted interest in Scotland. In this report, we explore the rationale for introducing a TVL, present case studies of TVL schemes across Europe, set out results of a survey of Edinburgh residents’ views on how TVL revenue should be invested, and make policy recommendations for the Scottish Government and Scottish Local Authorities.

The report recommends:

1 The Scottish Ministers need to urgently legislate to provide Scottish Local Authorities with discretionary powers to develop TVL schemes. Such schemes have been successfully implemented across Europe, and it is overdue for Scottish local government to be given the authority to develop equivalent schemes.

2 The City of Edinburgh Council should continue to develop its TVL proposal. The TVL rate of £2.00 per person per night would generate £13.6 million per annum.

3 CEC should be clearer about how they intend to spend the revenue generated by the TVL. We believe that further clarity about how the revenue generated will be invested will engender greater support for the overall concept of the TVL.

4 As established by the responses to the survey carried out in this report, some or all of the revenue generated should be invested in the City Centre public realm, and/or improvements to public transport services and cycle infrastructure.

5 Other Scottish local authorities should commence investigation of the merits of TVL schemes in their own areas. We would suggest that the other major city authorities (Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow) should actively pursue this, as should others who have large tourist flows to deal with (e.g. Highland Council).

6 That the term ‘Tourist Duty’ should now be used in public policy debate in preference to the clumsy, jargon-ridden term ‘Transient Visitor Levy’, as the former term better reflects the responsibility that tourists themselves have to the locations that they visit.

[3] Scottish Government ‘Consultation on The Principles of a Local Discretionary Transient Visitor Levy or Tourist Tax’

https://consult.gov.scot/local-government-and-communities/visitor-levy/

END OF NEWS RELEASE