First coalition pledge abandoned as Labour U-turn on visitor levy

Edinburgh’s Green councillors have expressed surprise and disappointment over a u-turn by the Labour-SNP led Council on visitor levies as a source of income. 

The Capital Coalition agreement has a pledge to further explore the so-called “bed tax” as a means of raising some of the £11 million which the Council spends on tourism and events.  Many cities in North America and Europe apply a very modest charge on tourists in order to fund some of the services which tourists enjoy.

 However, at a meeting today councillors were asked to switch attention away from the levy and towards a Business Improvement District around the theme of hospitality. 

 Steve BurgegssGreen Group Convenor, Steve Burgess, said:

 “Getting the best for Edinburgh will require more backbone from the capital ruling coalition .  It’s a great shame for the city they’re just giving up on this.

“Pursuing a visitor levy was one of the ruling coalition’s pledges but it seems they’ve immediately backed down in the face of knee-jerk opposition.

“I still believe that the proposal has merit and I want us to pursue it further with the Scottish Government.  With the council tax freeze councils have very little ways of raising extra income to fund services so we need to look very careful at such opportunities which do come up.

“The visitor levy has delivered large sums in many cities across the world for investment that benefits residents as well as visitors.  Such a levy could fund such benefits as the reopening of Leith Waterworld.”