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Tourism jobs boom amid fears of visitor tax

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By Rod Edgar
Tourism jobs boom amid fears of visitor tax

A GROWING tourism industry in the region could be harmed by plans to 'tax' visitors.

That is the reaction of one MSP to Scottish Labour’s proposals for a ‘tourist tax’ — as numbers working in the region’s tourism industry grow by 16 per cent.
Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell said: “These plans to hike taxes for the tourism industry are completely misguided by Scottish Labour.”
Mr Mundell says the proposals could see councils allowed to introduce a levy of £2.85 per night on visits across Scotland.
He said: “With the Scottish economy lagging behind in many key areas, we should be doing all we can to encourage visitors, yet all Labour seem interested in is hitting them with extra charges.
“My constituency of Dumfriesshire relies heavily on tourism with many businesses across the region relying a lot on the trade they bring into our towns and villages.”
And statistics newly produced by Visit Scotland reveal numbers of people working in tourism in Dumfries and Galloway has increased by 16 per cent in one year — compared to a national increase of 11 per cent.
And they reveal that tourism supports 6500 jobs in the region, representing 11 per cent of total jobs in the area.
Hailing the increase, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said: “Our tourism industry is going from strength to strength and this increase in jobs shows the vital role that tourism plays in Scotland’s economy and particularly in Dumfries and Galloway.”
Responding to criticism of the Labour policy, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “This is major gaffe from Oliver Mundell.
“He knows this is a proposal, which would start at 50p per night, aimed at big cities like Edinburgh who have considered the idea in the past.
“It would be entirely up to the local area to decide if they wanted to have a local levy to then re-invest it in the tourism industry.”
He added: “It’s very common abroad but I’m not convinced the industry would want it in Dumfries and Galloway and if that’s the case it wouldn’t be introduced here.”
And Mr Smyth says it is embarrassing for Mr Mundell that a Conservative-run council in Bath appears set to be the first in the UK to introduce such a levy.

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