Off-peak visitors not put off by tourist tax

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Almost nine in ten off-peak visitors to Edinburgh say they will still come to the capital even if they had to pay a tourist tax of £1 per room per night.

A new survey has found tourists who visit the city out of season are more reluctant to pay a levy, but 86 per cent polled would still be willing to come.

Almost nine in ten off-peak visitors to Edinburgh say they will still come to the capital even if they had to pay a tourist tax of �1 per room per night.

Almost nine in ten off-peak visitors to Edinburgh say they will still come to the capital even if they had to pay a tourist tax of �1 per room per night.

A similar survey at the height of the summer festival period found 92 per cent said they would not be deterred by a £1 tax.

Supporters of the controversial tax hailed the findings as reinforcing their case.

When asked about a £2 per room per night charge, the proportion of off-peak visitors saying they would still come dropped to 80 per cent compared with 88 per cent of peak period tourists.

And if the tax was levied at £4, the figure fell to 66 per cent for off-peak visitors who would not be deterred compared with 78 per cent of summer visitors.

The independent survey, commissioned by Marketing Edinburgh, was designed to see whether those who came to stay in Edinburgh at the cheaper times of year were more likely to be put off by extra costs.

The research was conducted last month, with 323 visitors being asked for their views.

Marketing Edinburgh said the findings were “largely consistent” with the results of the previous study, which questioned 561 tourists in July and August.

The body said while those visiting the city at its busiest time were less likely to say they would change their plans, the vast majority of off-peak visitors would still come to the capital.

The summer survey also asked 519 Edinburgh residents for their views and found 59 per cent supported a tourist tax. Any reservations centred mainly around the danger of deterring visitors – a concern that Marketing Edinburgh say was addressed by the finding that most visitors would still come.

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said the visitor experience in Edinburgh was quite different in summer compared to autumn, so it was important to re-test opinion off-peak. He said: “This, now complete, insight allows us to confidently debate the facts.

“There is a real need to find a solution that enables sustainable investment in Edinburgh’s growing tourism industry while supporting the council to manage the consequences of that success. A tourist tax is a proven way of doing that in other leading destinations.

“That said, our next steps must provide a more in-depth understanding on how such a tax would be operated and spent for those who live, work and do business here.”

City council leader Adam McVey said the findings echoed the experiences of other cities where a tourist tax had not had any detrimental impact on tourist numbers. “In reality, a tourist tax is now commonplace in countries across the world,” he said. “We are very much listening to everyone involved.”