Tourist tax consultation set to close, but what could the impact be?

Stuart McCallum, RSM’s head of food and drink in Scotland, said:

‘The outcome of the ‘tourist tax’ consultation will be eagerly watched by many in the leisure and hospitality sectors. But this concern also stretches across into the food and drink sector which has embraced the appeal of provenance for Scottish brands and the sector has expanded in the experiential with activities, such as whisky and gin distillery tours.  

‘The European tourism association (ETOA) embarked on a review into the impact of tourism taxes following the announcement of the Scottish government consultation. The findings were quite enlightening with a key recommendation warning of the cumulative effect of local taxes on competitiveness; which is a major concern for Scottish businesses. 

‘The impact of some local councils bringing in the tourist tax and some not; may impact visitor destination choice. But also, if large cities, like Edinburgh and Glasgow, implement the levy, this could have a knock-on-effect on wider tourism across the Highlands. So, the approach, if adopted, needs to be carefully considered to mitigate risk to thriving sectors in Scotland. 

‘The report also flags that tax should be ‘easy to pay, collect and cost effective to administer’; and sufficient notice up to two years should be given to allow businesses to implement the changes effectively. Let hope key responses to the consultation and wider best practice shape any future policy.’

Jim Burberry, head of VAT and indirect taxes in Scotland, added:

‘It’s good to see that issues and concerns about the interaction between any levy and VAT have been recognised within the consultation. It will now be interesting to see the outcome of future local, devolved and national tax policy as regards that interaction so that affected businesses can ensure their systems and accounting practices can cope.’