Time for a Tourist Tax?

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Cllr Graham Leadbitter

SNP Councillors in Moray have said they back the principle of a Tourist Tax and would welcome the opportunity for it to benefit Moray with investment in tourism infrastructure and promotion from the proceeds.

With around 800,000 bed nights sold in Moray in 2017/18, a Tourist Tax based on bed nights could, at just £1 per night, bring a boost to Moray worth hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.

The backing for such a measure comes at a time when austerity is biting hard and making it harder for Council’s to maintain investment levels.

Moray SNP Council Leader Graham Leadbitter says there could be significant opportunities for the region if a Tourist Tax collected and spent within Moray were to be used to benefit tourism in the area.

Cllr Leadbitter said: “The ongoing debate about Tourist Tax has highlighted a real opportunity for Moray. We all know there are significant challenges providing the best possible infrastructure to support tourism and that ranges from the simplest things like expanding public toilet provision and car parking facilities at tourist hotspots, improving our popular path networks, tourism signage, and right through to promotion and marketing.

“This is not just a Moray issue and with councils such as Edinburgh and Highland also keen to explore the opportunities that a Tourist Tax can bring; it may well be an idea that whose time has come.

“I have sought the views of individuals in recent weeks and the general feeling seems positive, provided of course that an efficient and appropriate means of collecting it can be put in place and that the monies collected are reinvested in our visitor economy to further increase tourism and boost the local economy.

“I believe it’s time for a local and national conversation on Tourist Tax and for a considered look at how it can be used to Moray’s and Scotland’s advantage.”

The Council’s Chair of Planning & Infrastructure Services, Cllr David Bremner, said: “Many of us are used to paying a Tourist Tax when we go on holiday and it would certainly not be an alien concept to people visiting Moray. I believe that, as long as the money collected locally is being invested locally and that any investment is being decided by the tourism businesses and local communities that would most benefit, then there is good support for it.

“A Tourist Tax is a huge opportunity to boost our tourism investment, make Moray more attractive to repeat visitors and take our visitor economy in Moray up another level. That in turn means better visitor facilities, more employment and more spend in the wider economy supporting hundreds of local businesses.”