The Highland Council has approved a £1-per-night (€1.20) charge known as a Transient Visitor Levy (TVL) to keep its towns and villages in good condition. This comes after the Scottish Government agreed to introduce legislation by 2021 to allow local authorities to introduce a levy, if they choose, as an additional contribution charged to people visiting the area or region as short-term visitors. It is hoped that an estimated £5m - £10m (€5.86m - €11.72m) per year will be raised from the levy to address the standard of local facilities in the Highlands.
The area welcomes over six million visitors per year, including day visitors and cruise passengers. The council says that while these visitors are welcome, it needs to manage the effects these large numbers are having on its services, resources and infrastructure. Problems have arisen due to littering on the streets, human waste being disposed of down drains and gridlock from cars. The council wants to work towards keeping towns and villages in good condition, as concerns were previously raised about visitors being left with a negative impression of the area as a result of these issues.
The local tourism industry harbours fears about the levy, however. It hopes that it won't deter visitors by creating a perception that the area will be more expensive than others to visit. Highland hasn't ruled out applying the charge to those staying in campsites, and indeed wild camping is very popular is the region. It will work during 2020 to consider how a TVL scheme might be designed and implemented to lessen potential negative impacts and says that it should be able to be applied in ways other than just a ‘bed tax’ on those staying in paid overnight accommodation. Further information on the TVL can be found here.