A tourism tax would put more pressure on already under-fire hotels, a prominent hotelier fears.
Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association’s vice-chairman Frank Whitaker spoke just days before a crucial consultation closes.
During a previous consultation, Aberdeen City Council indicated to the Scottish Government that it supports the introduction of the tax and that charging £1 extra per night for hotels, guest houses, serviced accommodation and bed and breakfasts would generate £1.8m a year.
However Mr Whitaker, who is also general manager of Park Inn by Radisson Aberdeen, said: “There is a real risk it would become a hotel tax.
For example, cruise passengers arriving in Aberdeen wouldn’t have to pay it so cruise companies would have an advantage.
“There is also a danger it would unfairly penalise hotels in Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire if the tax was implemented in only some areas of Scotland, rather than all of Scotland.”
He said the average amount of money city hotels make per room per night has fallen from £74 to £36 since 2014 – yet the number of available rooms has risen 20%.
He added: “The concern is local authorities would use this revenue as a way of supporting services already under pressure due to funding cuts elsewhere.”
Mr Whitaker said an alternative would be to place a tax on other purchases, such as theatre tickets.
He said he welcomed Aberdeen City Council’s efforts to improve the city through its masterplan and added: “The council has suggested that, if the tax is introduced, a board would be formed.”
Organisations could bid to the board for funds to spend on projects boosting the city and drawing in tourists, he said.
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Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee discussed the issue yesterday after 17 of 29 respondents to its own consultation said they were against the tax.
Angus Council said it has not expressed a view but has said “a further report on the final terms of that legislation will be brought back to the policy and resources committee so the council’s policy position on whether to implement such a levy can be considered”.
Moray Council has supported the tax claiming it could boost its annual revenue by £800,000.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said, if the tax is introduced, it would be up to individual local authorities to decide if they wish to implement it.
He added: “The consultation sets out that a charge on overnight stays – in all types of accommodation and not just hotels – is the Scottish Government’s initial position, but it seeks views on this, as well as looking to explore the feasibility of extending the levy to other visitor activities, such as day visitors and cruise ship passengers.”
The Scottish Government consultation ends at midnight on Monday.
Visit tinyurl.com/scottourismtax to take part.