Scotland looks into imposing its own bed tax

18 May 2006
Scotland looks into imposing its own bed tax

The Scottish Executive is following Westminster's lead by investigating the possibility of imposing a bed tax on the country's hoteliers.

Two studies into the impact of imposing a tax on hotel bedrooms in Scotland will be unveiled within the next two months.

One will examine the effect of a bed tax in Edinburgh, Scotland's biggest tourist area, a proposal supported by the city council.

The second study, carried out by the Scottish Tourism Forum, will be discussed at a meeting at the end of this month.

Both studies will precede the outcome of the Birt Committee, set up in 2004 by the Scottish Executive to look into local government funding. Like the Lyons Inquiry for England, it is considering a bed tax.

The Birt Committee will publish its final conclusions by late October.

Despite Edinburgh councilÁ¢Â€Â™s support for a bed tax, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CSLA) has denounced the idea as a Á¢Â€Âœdouble-edged swordÁ¢Â€Â that could damage tourism.

A bed tax Á¢Â€Âœcould mean pricing ourselves out of the market, particularly if the tax in Scotland was different from that in England,Á¢Â€Â the CSLA concluded at an evidence hearing in 2002.

Alan Rankin, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Forum, said visitors would be confused if England and Scotland took different views on imposing a bed tax.

And Stuart Barrow, government affairs officer at VisitBritain, warned that more local anomalies would arise because the decision whether to impose a bed tax would be left to the discretion of individual councils.

Á¢Â€ÂœYou could have the bizarre situation that tourists staying in the Ritz do not pay a bed tax while those staying in a provincial Travelodge do,Á¢Â€Â he said.

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By Angela Frewin

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