Money raised from a proposed tourist tax could be ring-fenced to help promote the city, according to claims from the co-leader of Aberdeen City Council.
Leaders have long called for the powers to be devolved from Holyrood to allow them to introduce a levy which they say would boost council coffers by £1.7 million a year.
The scheme – similar to those in Paris, Barcelona and New York – would mean tourists paying an additional £1 a night for stays, with the money going to the local authority.
Jenny Laing, co-leader of the local authority, said the money could be ring-fenced to pay for the “promotion of the place”.
She added: “It’s a consumer tax – the people who use the accommodation will pay it rather than the businesses themselves.
“The government has to allow that to happen, but if we brought that in, our idea would be to ring-fence that money to support the tourism sector.”
In October, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a consultation will be held into a tourist tax with the move being interpreted as a softening into the Scottish Government’s opposition to the levy.
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Ms Laing said discussions have taken place within the council over how a proposed scheme would operate, but added the focus has been on lobbying the Scottish Government to grant them the necessary powers.
She added: “We need to make sure the powers are devolved and what that scheme would be.”
The Federation of Small Business (FSB) hit out at the proposal saying that a local survey of businesses has shown 84% oppose the introduction of such a tax.
Ms Laing said talks were held recently with the main tourist agencies where their concerns were taken on board.
She added: “They’re concerned about competitiveness with other areas, but what we would argue is that currently we’re investing heavily in the tourist sector.
“We want to look at ways in which we can secure revenue that can be invested in this area. If we can make Aberdeen an attractive place to visit, that will help to increase the room occupancies and bring in greater numbers.”
VisitAberdeenshire chief executive Chris Foy said the issue has proven “polarising”.
He added: “I think the important thing here is if it does come in, and I’m neither for or against, it’s important the revenues are directed towards tourism and events.
“Whether that’s staging events or marketing the city region, I think that’s the important factor here.”
Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “We have no plans to introduce a tourism tax, but we are convening a national discussion to allow all different views on a tourism tax to be heard.
“The Scottish Government is clear this debate must fully involve the tourism and hospitality industry and provide an opportunity for everyone to air their views.
“We have invited contributions and participation from a wide range of groups with an interest in tourism, economic growth and public sector finance.
“CoSLA has been invited to represent the local authority point of view and Aberdeen City Council leader Ms Laing will be most welcome to attend the discussion to be held in Aberdeen.”