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The tourism sector has been sold down the river. Scottish Government launched a 'Conversation' on the tourist tax which was a series of meetings and written submissions. No one round the table at the meeting I was at, including the Cabinet Secretary was for this tax. The written submissions had to be in by Friday 25th January, yet the Scottish Government gave it away within hours to get it's budget approved. I can live with a process deciding that tourism tax would be beneficial, but the early decision to approve is a slap in the face for all who took part (putting it very politely indeed). Edinburgh will now somehow have to count every futon, so a registration scheme is a prerequisite to the tax being introduced. It's not going to be easy. And the mechanics of collection, VAT question and what it gets spent on (and who gets to decide that) all needs to be sorted out.
If the Scottish Government give the green light to Edinburgh to introduce an accommodation tax as sure as night follows day other tourist cities like York and Bath will follow suit. Even cities who are not blessed with a lot of tourists could see it as a way to earn extra revenue to offset the cuts from central Government. One has toremember that the UK has one of the highest VAT rates in the EU at 20% the same as Slovakia, only beaten by Denmark at 25% in comparison Spain at 10% and Germany at 7% so there is a hefty tax on bedroom rates in the UK already. The only justification for it would be for it to be ring fenced and used sorely for the benefit of the touristsin regard to facilities (toilets, parking, upkeep of gardens, Museums and so on) if the money just goes down a tax black hole and facilities do not improve and a tourist has a bad experience then they will not return. The money has to be spend wisely for the good of the tourist and city alike.