Edinburgh to introduce UK’s first ever tourist tax

The tax could apply to all forms of accommodation, including hostels and Airbnb

The capital of Scotland might soon become the first city in the United Kingdom to collect a tax from tourists.

The council of Edinburgh has voted in favour to include a $2.60 (£2) fee per night to the price of any hotel, hostel or Airbnb-style booking for the first week of a stay in the city.

Edinburg might collect a tourist tax as the first city in the UK — Shutterstock Edinburgh to introduce UK’s first ever tourist tax
Edinburg might collect a tourist tax as the first city in the UK — Shutterstock

With the new tourist tax, the council aims to raise funds to pay costs of mass tourism. With 4 million visitors coming to Edinburgh every year, the tax could bring additional funds between $15 and $19 million (£11.6–£14.6 million).

However, the city cannot implement the levy right away as the proposal has to be approved by the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish government formerly rejected the idea of implementing a tourist tax. But first minister Nicola Sturgeon has decided to continue with further consultation.

The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce welcomed the council’s decision adding that the exact use of the funds needs to be clarified.

“After consulting our members, we found broad support for the principle of a transient visitor levy, support which increases further if funds were ring-fenced and re-invested entirely in the city’s infrastructure,” said the chamber’s CEO, Liz McAreavey.

“What we require now is some more detailed information from City of Edinburgh Council as to exactly what they propose to do with the funds raised via a TVL.”

Edinburgh is not the only popular destination that has been weighing on a tourist tax. A similar measure has emerged in Bali, where the authorities have drafted a law that would introduce a $10 international tourist tax on every visitor.

Similarly, New Zealand aims to collect $17 (NZ$25) from each international tourist visiting the country.