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Tourism tax could harm region, says MSP

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By Fiona Reid
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Tourism tax could harm region, says MSP

A WARNING has been given of the potential impact a tourist tax could have on businesses in Galloway.

Finlay Carson MSP spoke out after plans for a visitor levy in Scotland were passed by MSPs despite concerns over the impact it could have across the sector.

Legislation giving councils powers to impose a levy on overnight stays was passed at Holyrood earlier this week.

Under the plan, local authorities will be able to impose a charge on those staying in hotels and bed and breakfasts, self-catering accommodation and campsites and caravan parks.

But the Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP fears it could have a serious impact on those offering cheap camping holidays, many still struggling from the impact of covid.

He said: “Does Mr Briggs agree that, by offering cheap camping holidays, businesses such as Loch Ken holiday park, Auchenlarie holiday park and Brighouse holiday park, which are in my constituency, all have a very low impact on the environment and on local communities?

“Caravan and camping clubs also offer low-impact holidays. Given that they have not recovered from covid, the levy could have a big impact on them.”

In his response, Miles Briggs MSP, confirmed he had lodged a set of amendments, working with the caravan and camping sector, which were intended to ensure this sector would not be impacted by the levy.

He said: “I hope that the Minister can include some of that in the statutory guidance that he will create, especially for businesses where accommodation is not the main source of income, and for the council areas that may exempt camping and camping sites.

“For most Scots, the issue is not about visitors; it is about them. It is about the fact that they will be paying a ten per cent additional cost to stay in a hotel when their house is flooded and that, potentially, when they go to hospital with their children they will have to pay the tax because we have no exemptions.”

The Scottish Government has already suggested that it is “open to introducing” a similar levy on cruise ships, with a consultation to take place later this year.

Ministers have previously said motorhomes would not be included, despite demands from areas affected by wild camping.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Carson said: “The Scottish Conservatives have opposed the legislation, especially as we need to see a more robust exemption scheme in place.

“I hope Dumfries and Galloway Council give it careful consideration before deciding whether to introduce a visitor levy scheme.”

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