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Edinburgh festivals to be funded by “bed tax”

A new “bed tax” has been voted on by councillors in Edinburgh to aim to raise around £10 million each year to contribute towards the cost of its festivals, conference centres and venues. Council leaders have tried to introduce the tax for a number of years and will have to be approved by the Scottish Parliament. A tax between £1 and £2 a night for each visitor to Edinburgh is likely to be implemented.

Edinburgh would be the first city to charge such a tax in the UK, although the tax is in operation in Vancouver, Venice and New York. The hotel sector in Edinburgh considers such a measure to be harmful to the tourist trade. The Edinburgh Hoteliers Association is representative of the largest hotels in the city, and member Colin Paton said:

“It discriminates against the hotel industry and does not respect the existing tax structures of the UK. We already pay a profit-related property tax, then we’ve got corporation tax and income tax, so this seems very unfair.”

According to a report compiled in May, the festivals create employment for more than 5,200 people and generate £245 million for Edinburgh’s economy. Almost 40 percent of that was spent on accommodation and hotels. If the tax is rejected by Scottish Parliament, or the scheme is deemed to be too complicated legally, councillors may consider a voluntary tax. The Scottish Green party councillor, Steve Burgess who introduced the idea of a “bed tax” believes that tourists will want to contribute to the tourist attractions and festivals.

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