Hoteliers have branded claims that a majority of Edinburgh’s accommodation providers back a tourist tax as “unbelievable”.
Edinburgh City Council released the results of a survey, part of its eight-week public consultation on its plans for a tax of 2 per cent or £2 per room per night, which showed 51 per cent of accommodation providers were in favour of the proposals.
But Russell Imrie, spokesman for the Edinburgh Hotels Association, said: “It is unbelievable. We know, having spoken face to face with hoteliers, they are opposed to this.”
He said he had taken part in a number of round-table discussions held by the council to gauge opinion.
“There was nobody from the accommodation sector who was in favour of a tourist tax at any of these events. So the round-table outcomes are in complete contradiction to the survey results.”
He added: “The UK has the second highest rate of VAT in the EU on accommodation. We are at a distinct disadvantage already with the taxation we levy - to impose a further tax on our visitors is economic madness.” The Scottish Tourism Alliance also questioned the survey findings.
Chief executive Marc Crothall said: “Out of the 2,560 responses to the consultation, just 17 per cent were from all businesses types, both within and outside Edinburgh which is very low considering the importance of the tourism economy, and only seven per cent were from Edinburgh accommodation providers.”
He said the figures worked out at just 87 accommodation providers which had indicated strong support - less than 5 per cent of all tourism businesses in the city.
UK Hospitality said it was “concerned” about the results. Executive director Willie Macleod said: “UKH is in no doubt that the vast majority of accommodation businesses in the city, including hotels, serviced apartments, B&Bs, hostels and self-catering properties, are opposed to a tourist tax.”
He said the council should make clear which types of accommodation businesses had responded.
Garry Clark, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said firms needed to know who would administer a new tax and what say they would have over how revenues were spent.
The council claimed the consultation had been a robust process.