Edinburgh union leaders want to tax city tourists


A tax on tourists in Edinburgh during peak times such as the festival would help soften the blow of funding cuts, according to trade union leaders.

John Stevenson, president of Unison’s Edinburgh branch, said the city council should look into charging tourists as a way of generating income.

He said the extra cash would help “hold together the framework of public services”.

Mr Stevenson said: “We are not talking about great funds – it won’t rescue all public services but will help maintain their infrastructure.

“The council is in a disadvantageous position in that it puts money into festivals and gets nothing back from that.”

The call comes after the City of Edinburgh Council said last week that it needed to find £90 million in savings over the next three years.

Mr Stevenson said Edinburgh had a “vibrant market” with high occupancy rates of visitors in hotels.

A hotel bed tax scheme or tourist tax would work by adding an amount of money to hotel rooms at busy times during the year to raise money for council services during the festivals.

Mr Stevenson said: “We are talking about an amount that would hardly be noticeable to tourists but that could earn a few million… We see it working as a voluntary system which hotels would opt in to and it would be something like 25p per bed per night.”

A spokesman for the city council said the issue of a bed tax is something that is “neither being ruled in nor ruled out at this stage”.