08/08/2016 (Scotsman) - Visitors travelling to Aberdeen could soon be hit with a tourism tax introduced to raise more cash to help regenerate the city. Money generated from the scheme would be used to pay for the upkeep of museums, galleries, historic buildings and other tourist attractions.
Hotel guests could be charged an extra pound under the initiative for each day they stay in their chosen accommodation. The move would bring Aberdeen in line with popular cities across Europe billing tourists an additional fee for staying in hotel rooms.
The Labour-led administration is currently considering a series of proposals to help raise more cash for the city. Council finance bosses have also called for control over air passenger duty to pay for a multimillion pound rail link between the airport and the city.
Finance convenor Willie Young said a report on the proposals would be discussed at a full council meeting next week. Mr Young said: “Aberdeen’s economy is unique and we need the powers, including the ability to raise our own monies, in order to tailor for the city the kind of measures required to keep us at the sharp end of business which is where we need to be.
“We’ve got devolution now from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament. We need to get devolution now from the Scottish Parliament to local authorities. “Aberdeen in particular does rather poorly, it is the lowest funded council. We need more powers to grow the economy, that could be from airport duty which could raise about 20 million pounds, and a tourism tax which could raise anything upwards of two million pounds per annum. “That way we could expect to grow the economy of this city and the north-east.”
Mr Young said other cities across Europe had introduced a tourism tax at hotels such as Rome, Florence, Paris and Barcelona.
Critics expressed concerns over taxes being considered for hotels which were suffering in the region due to the oil and gas downturn. Visit Aberdeenshire’s chief executive Steve Harris supported the proposals.
However, hotel director Mike Edwards, the chairman of Hospitality Training in Aberdeen, said: “The one silver lining for the oil price collapse that hoteliers are having to deal with is that there has been a resurgence in the tourist industry this summer due to super rates being offered.”