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Edinburgh council votes in favour of £2 per night “tourist tax”

Edinburgh councillors have voted in favour of a £2 per night “tourist tax”, set to become the first of its kind in the UK.

The proposals would see a £2-per-night charge added to the price of any room for the first week of a stay – for all accommodation, including those in the sharing economy, such as Airbnb.

The aim of the transient visitor levy (TVL) is to mitigate the costs of mass tourism in Edinburgh. The Scottish capital attracts more than 4 million visitors a year.

The new tax could raise between £11.6m and £14.6m per year. It is unlikely to come into effect until next year, as the Scottish Parliament still has to pass the necessary legislation.

The Scottish Government had been opposed to the tax, but signalled a change in direction last year by agreeing to a consultation, saying that the interests of the hospitality and tourism industry must be fully taken into account.

A Marketing Edinburgh survey asking residents and visitors for their views on the potential introduction of a TVL found that the majority of locals are supportive of the idea and visitors would not be put off coming to the capital.

Last year, James Heappey, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the events industry, floated the idea of a ‘bed tax’ to help fund the industry and its promotion.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce CEO Liz McAreavey welcomed the news. She said: “After consulting our members, we found broad support for the principle of a transient visitor levy, support which increases further if funds were ring-fenced and re-invested entirely in the city’s infrastructure.

“What we require now is some more detailed information from City of Edinburgh Council as to exactly what they propose to do with the funds raised via a TVL.”

If the legislation is passed, Edinburgh is set to follow in the footsteps of cities such as Barcelona and Nashville in introducing a per room per night charge.

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