Lonely Planet Writer

Famous festival city Edinburgh mulls tourist tax

One of the main draws for tourists to Edinburgh, Scotland is its world-famous festivals – but in order to keep up the city’s cultural institutions, some are calling for a tourist tax to be imposed on visitors.

Edinburgh.
Edinburgh. Image by Saskia Heijltjes / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Edinburgh Cultural Venues group, which includes the National Museums, National Galleries and much more, has said there is a need for a visitor levy, reports the Scotsman, despite opposition from within the tourism industry. A tourist tax is a fee added to services generally used by visitors, such as an extra cost on a hotel room.

Cuts to public funding have made things more difficult for Edinburgh’s venues and they maintain that the levy could raise the funds needed for upkeep and growth.

People in the streets an Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
People in the streets an Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Image by Martie Swart / CC BY 2.0

Each August, the city is packed with visitors attending a vast array of festivals, including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is the world’s largest arts festival. However, the Scottish Tourism Alliance is opposed to new forms of taxation being introduced due to the negative impact it could have on the industry, reports the Edinburgh Evening News.

Edinburgh from Calton Hill.
Edinburgh from Calton Hill. Image by bfurbush

While cultural organizations and tourism officials may have differing opinions on the impact of the tax, the issue will have to be considered by the government.  The Daily Mail reports that the levy could be added as early as the end of 2016.

According to the Scotsman, Edinburgh would be the first UK city to introduce such a fee, which would add about £1 per night to a hotel bill. Other European cities already have such taxes, including Berlin, Paris and Barcelona.