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Tourist tax 'could raise up to £10 million for Highland communities'

By Nicola Sinclair, Local Democracy Reporter

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Could visitors to the Highlands face an extra charge in future years?
Could visitors to the Highlands face an extra charge in future years?

Highland Council has reiterated its support for a visitor levy, or so-called "tourist tax".

The Scottish Government kick-started plans for a tourist tax back in 2019 with a national consultation, but the pandemic halted progress.

Now that process has restarted and a Bill is expected to go to parliament in the spring.

Highland Council voted in favour of a tourist tax in December 2019. Their decision followed a consultation which attracted more than 6000 responses.

Overall, Highland people broadly supported the introduction of a tourist tax, though the council notes that support varied among residents, businesses and visitors.

If implemented, Highland Council believes a tourist tax could raise between £5 million and £10 million for the region.

They say this money could support local communities and develop a more sustainable tourism industry.

In a report to this week’s economy committee, Highland Council officers say they plan to work with the Scottish Government in drawing up the Bill.

The legislation will then take 12 to 14 months to pass through parliament.

After that, local authorities will go back out to public consultation.

Highland Council believes the visitor levy scheme could be up and running as early as 2026.

The council’s economy and infrastructure committee will consider the proposals at its meeting on Thursday.

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