Attractions & Experiences

Scotland passes Visitor Levy Bill

Featured Image: Connor Mollison on Unsplash

Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) have backed legislation that would see a visitor levy introduced by local authorities for overnight stays in the country. 

The Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill would enable local authorities to raise money to reinvest in services and facilities largely used by tourists and business visitors.

The Scottish Government noted similar schemes already in place in cities in Europe, such as Amsterdam and Berlin.

Venice recently introduced a €5 (£4/$5) tourist tax to combat excessive tourism. At present, tourists to the historic Italian city only have to pay on days where visitor numbers are traditionally quite high, which are mainly weekends in the spring and summer months.

Councils that wish to introduce a visitor levy will be able to do so after consulting local communities, businesses and tourism organisations. An 18-month implementation period would then begin before any local authorities can introduce a full visitor levy scheme in their area. This is to allow adequate time for councils and businesses to put in place systems to collect and administer a levy.

The earliest a visitor levy could come into force would be spring 2026.

Exemptions will apply for those in receipt of disability benefits from the UK or Scottish Governments, while Ministers will be able to cap the number of nights for which a visitor levy would apply, after consultation and Parliamentary approval.

Additionally, for councils looking to set up a visitor levy scheme, they would need to establish a forum to discuss and advise the council on related matters. There will also be a requirement for the Scottish Government to review the Visitor Levy Bill no later than three years after the date of the first scheme coming into effect.

“We share a vision with the tourism industry for Scotland to be a global leader in tourism and one of the most economically, environmentally and socially sustainable destinations in the world,” said Scotland’s Minister for Employment and Investment, Tom Arthur.

“A visitor levy can help achieve that vision by empowering councils to raise funding, if they wish to do so, that can be invested in local visitor services and activities.”