We are pay­ing our dues and not get­ting any­thing back – hote­lier

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS -

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.”

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