We are paying our dues and not getting anything back – hotelier
The debate over introducing a tourist tax on Skye last summer raged amid complaints about overflowing car parks, congested roads, litter and visitors going to the toilet in the open.
More than 150,000 tourists now visit Skye each year, with the rate rising by about 5% annually as visitors flock to famous beauty spots such as the Fairy Pools, Neist Point lighthouse and the Old Man of Storr.
Anne Gracie Gunn, proprietor of three Skye hotels – Toravaig House, Duisdale House and Skeabost House – said the idea of an additional charge would create a “barrier” to tourism on top of the 20% VAT rate for hotel beds.
She said: “To slap on £1 a bed on top is wrong when we are not getting the money spent in rural areas as it is. It’s the same as putting a toll on the Skye bridge.”
But Mrs Gunn said a tourist tax would be worth considering if there was a way to offer reduced VAT rates, while acknowledging that the state of roads on the island is a “health and safety issue”.
She added: “We are paying our dues and not getting anything back.”
When asked if it could be ensured that bed tax money would go towards improving local services and infrastructure, she replied: “The money is already going to the government – it’s just where it’s spent that is the problem. We need more investment from the government.”
Concerns have also been raised about the impact of infrastructure on the mainland due to the successful North Coast 500 driving route.
Applecross Inn owner Judith Fish said that the VAT rates are high enough and that any additional levy would put people off, adding: “We have already had to increase process because of dramatic rates increases, bin removal prices and ongoing running costs.”