Councillors discuss overnight charge
Consultation and analysis should be carried out before Stirling Council introduce an overnight charge for visitors to the area says its leader.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has promised that the Scottish Government will look at the possibility of following the lead of top European destinations like Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam by giving local authorities the power to introduce the levy if they wish.
It is estimated that a £2-a-night levy in the likes of Edinburgh, which welcomes around four million guests annually, could potentially raise up to £29million for local facilities.
However, some tourism gurus say there is a danger that introducing such as levy could deter visitors and backfire.
At a full meeting of Stirling Council last Thursday, Green councillor Alasdair Tollemache asked council leader Scott Farmer if he supported the “growing concensus”that local authorities should be given greater fiscal powers, such as the power to levy an overnight visitor charge.
Councillor Farmer said: “Councils generally have been facing a challenging position, and are likely to continue to do so in the coming years.
“As an alternative to reductions to service provision, councils also need to be exploring alternative funding sources, either from increased use of existing powers, or by exploring new fiscal powers.
“Extending the range of fiscal powers will normally require the support of central government, who would be responsible for introducing new legislative powers to enable this to happen.
“The council will be engaging in the dialogue that is taking place between COSLA and the Scottish Government about the possible extension of fiscal powers to local government.
“All possibilities should be considered, and as wide a range of views as possible should be gathered from all stakeholders before decisions are taken on the matter.
“I know colleagues in Edinburgh and elsewhere have done a lot of work on a visitor levy, however it will be suitable for some areas and others might not want it.
“It would be up to elected members in councils to decide whether or not to actually use that.
“Hopefully when that power is granted we will carry out an analysis as to what the potential revenue would be or the advantage it could bring to Stirling.”