Tourism levy consultation
Highland visitor levy
Highland welcomes over 6 million visitors a year, including day visitors and cruise passengers. All visitors are welcome, but we need to manage the effects these large numbers are having on our services, resources and infrastructure.
Highland Transient Visitor Levy (TVL)
On 9 December 2019, we approved the findings of a public consultation supporting the introduction of a TVL and committed to further work to develop the best scheme for Highland.
A Transient Visitor Levy – also known as a ‘Tourist Tax’ or ‘Visitor Levy’ is an additional contribution charged to people visiting a country or region as short-term visitors.
The Scottish Government will introduce legislation by 2021 to allow local authorities to introduce a levy, if they choose to.
It is estimated that this could generate £5 – £10 million each year, depending on how a scheme was designed.
Between June and October 2019, we consulted more than 6,600 Highland residents, businesses and visitors to the region on whether a TVL scheme should be used in Highland and how it might be designed. The results include:
- Pre-consultation with the tourism industry (40+ contributors)
- Online survey results (5,622 responses)
- Face-to-face visitor survey results (950 interviews)
- Written submission summaries (28 submissions)
Based on this strong evidence, Members of Highland Council have committed to further pursue a Highland Visitor Levy.
What happens next
Continued work on design and implementation
During 2020 we will continue work to consider how a TVL scheme might be designed and implemented to reflect the consultation findings and to lessen potential negative impacts. This includes progressing key design principles approved by Full Council on 9 December 2019:
- A Highland TVL should be able to be applied in ways other than just a ‘bed tax’ on those staying in paid overnight accommodation
- Highland residents should be exempted from paying a Highland TVL
- Revenue should be ring-fenced to ‘tourism uses’, with continued work to determine what constitutes ‘tourism uses’ and how these are defined for Highland
- Options be explored for how some TVL revenue might be ring-fenced for use in the area of Highland in which it is raised
We will continue to work with the Scottish Government to make sure our region’s needs and the results of the Highland consultation are considered.