Edinburgh set to introduce Britain's first tourist tax

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-08 02:03:51|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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LONDON, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- City councilors in Edinburgh gave the go-ahead on Thursday to what will be Britain's first tourist tax.

It will mean tourists paying 2 pounds (2.60 U.S. dollars) a night for each bed in a hotel, hostel or Airbnb short-term lets.

Officials in the Scottish capital, which hosts 4 million visitors a year, say the tax could raise up to 19 million U.S. dollars a year for the city treasury.

Industry commentators say the proposed scheme will be carefully monitored by tourism towns and cities across Britain, with some warning the tax could hit young backpackers on low-budget holidays.

Councilors backed the tourist levy by 43 votes to 15, but it will need legislation by the Scottish parliament before it can be brought in.

Edinburgh city council leader Adam McVey said the tax will be additional resources to the city.

He said: "Unless we find a sustainable way of financing the things we use as a city and keep the tourism going, we will start to see a threat and detriment to that experience. We are already seeing pavements congested and we need to find better ways to manage it all.

"It will be set locally, collected locally and spent locally. We will collect it for the benefit of our city as a whole."

Liberal Democrat councilor Kevin Lang said a tourist tax or transient visitor levy will help visitors to Edinburgh make a more appropriate contribution to the success of the city.

The plan is to charge the levy for up to seven consecutive nights stay in all paid accommodation across Edinburgh, including short term lets and hostels. It would not apply at camping sites.

Tourism taxes or levies are commons across mainland Europe, but so far have not reached Britain. In England the cities of Bath and Oxford councils have called for powers to charge visitors.