One of the leading figures in the hospitality industry in the north-east today welcomed the chance to discuss a controversial tourism levy with council chiefs.
Andrew Martin, vice-chairman of the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Hotel Association, said the proposed tax could help fund projects aimed at attracting more people to visit the area.
Similar taxes have been introduced in other European countries and city councillors are considering introducing the levy.
It is also being considered at Scottish tourist hotspots like Edinburgh and Inverness.
Mr Martin said one concern is that hotel bosses are already feeling the pinch due to high levels of VAT, so the new tax, which could mean an extra pound per night at hotels, might make visitors look for alternatives.
“Tourism levies have been introduced around the world, and to be fair, it is not a huge disincentive to go to those places,” he said.
“However, in most of the places where they have been introduced, the VAT on the tourism industry is much lower than it is here.
“The hoteliers feel they are over-taxed as it is, and it may be unfair on them to introduce a levy.
“The burden of collecting the money would also have to go to the hotels. We don’t know what will happen with things like Airbnb, although we have had a commitment from the city council they will look at that.
“The argument for the levy is this is new money coming in and that is important to help us look at Aberdeen in terms of its development as a destination.
“That could be infrastructure or new projects designed to bring new tourists to the area.
“That’s a big positive argument and it’s one I really like.”
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The tax has been backed by Lower Deeside councillor Marie Boulton, who urged hoteliers to listen to the local authority’s proposals.
“The council spends over £3 million a year trying to promote the area,” she said.
“Unfortunately, we heard from hoteliers who were saying they don’t want to charge an extra pound per night.
“On February 1 we are having a stakeholder engagement event. We’re having about 150 people along to hear about the challenges we are facing.”
Mr Martin is eager to use the opportunity to discuss the proposal further with council officials.
He said: “We have to work with colleagues and stakeholders in the industry and we have to inform people and work with them to make sure we do the right thing.
“Consultation is very good as long as you provide a win-win for both sides.
“The hotel association have been trying to inform and engage for about two years.
“We want to get round the table with the people making the decisions because it is in all our interests to make sure we move forward positively.
“It helps people to make the right decision.”