City council leader in ‘Twitter spat’ with Fiona Hyslop over tourist tax

Fiona Hyslop engaged with council leader Adam McVey on Twitter over the tourist tax
Fiona Hyslop engaged with council leader Adam McVey on Twitter over the tourist tax
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The SNP leader of the city council has been “slapped down” by Scotland’s tourism secretary over his plans to introduce a tourism tax in Edinburgh.

Cllr Adam McVey claimed the tax would be introduced “in a year or so”, despite still needing the approval of the Scottish Government.

The council leader took to Twitter to comment on his proposals.

He said: “in the next 12 months, our plans for a ‘tourist tax’ will be ready for implementation.

“While it may take longer to deliver the powers necessary to start collection, our timeline is robust and we will be ready to go.”

READ MORE: Tourist tax to be unveiled in Edinburgh ‘within 12 months’

But tourism secretary Fiona Hyslop, who is currently on a trip to Japan, hit out at the comments by the council leader.

She took to Twitter to respond, writing: “? ? ? So let’s be clear – you have no shared plans, no tourist business consultation and no agreement with Scottish Gov.”

Cllr McVey replied to his SNP colleague.

He said: “Initial plans agreed by council, in process of business engagement and no agreement with ScotGov, yet.”

The council is proposing adding £1 to hotel bills in order to drum up an estimated £11 million of extra revenue for the city. The tourist tax is charged in cities across Europe and Edinburgh is attempting to become the first UK city to bring in the policy.

The proposals have split opinion. While many believe the tax would generate much-needed funding for the city, opponents believe the added charge could put too much pressure on businesses.

READ MORE: Council chiefs plan for extended tram line, tourist tax and Low Emission Zone

Scottish Conservative shadow tourism secretary Rachael Hamilton said: “This is an embarrassing split right at the top of the SNP on this issue.

“In full public view, the nationalist tourism secretary is slapping down the SNP leader of Scotland’s capital city.

“Fiona Hyslop appears surprised that the council has approved this move, which would suggest she’s not fully on top of her brief.”

She added: “It’s also strange that, while on an official engagement on the other side of the world, the minister’s first concern is getting involved in a Twitter spat.

“We don’t agree with Adam McVey that Edinburgh – or anywhere else – should introduce a tourist tax.”

“Businesses in that sector are already taxed far too much, and this move would only jeopardise these firms and the jobs they support.

“There is also a risk these taxes could be passed onto local people rather than those visiting.”