McArthur meets with public finance minister over Visitor Levy Bill

1 May 2024
Liam McArthur MSP

Having previously lodged amendments to the proposed Visitor Levy Bill, seeking to ensure any levy could also be applied to cruise passengers and mobile homes, Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur today met with Minister Tom Arthur to discuss ways in which this might be achieved.

At present, the Scottish Government’s Visitor Levy Bill would give councils the power to introduce a ‘tourist tax’ on overnight stays within their local authority area. However, as drafted, the levy would only apply to fixed locations like B&Bs and hotels, and would not encompass visitors staying on cruise ships or in motorhomes.

At Stage 2 of the Bill’s scrutiny by the Local Government Committee, Mr McArthur lodged amendments aimed at addressing this inconsistency, recognising that for any levy to have the confidence of the public, it would need to be seen to apply fairly across the board.

Commenting after the meeting, Mr McArthur said:

“Whatever the merits of allowing local councils to introduce a visitor levy to raise funds for local services and infrastructure, it needs to be seen to apply fairly and consistently.

“People in Orkney will not be alone in wondering why visitors to our islands who stay in hotels, self-catering or B&Bs should be charged, but not the increasing numbers who visit Orkney on cruise ships or indeed in mobile homes. Each in their own way have an impact on those local services and infrastructure.

“I welcome the Minister’s willingness to engage constructively with me on options for addressing the gap in the current bill. I recognise this is not straightforward to resolve but to gain public confidence and acceptance by the sector, any levy needs to be seen to be fair and reasonable. I look forward to seeing what the Minister comes forward with ahead of the Stage 3 debate and votes.”

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