Scots tourism boss warns rates hikes could hit businesses

NICOLA Sturgeon has been warned tourism businesses may be forced to close and jobs will be lost as a result of 'crippling' business rates hike.

Scottish Tourism Alliance, Marc Crothall, has written to the First Minister demanding an urgent meeting with her. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The warning has come from the chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Marc Crothall, who has written to the First Minister demanding an urgent meeting with her.

Mr Crothall says many within the tourism industry are expressing “deep concern” at the increase in the levy from April this year following recent revaluations. In some cases the increase is over 200 per cent.

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In his letter, Mr Corthall said: “We have been told by some if the rate hikes notified were to remain even for the short term pending appeal it could result in their being forced into closure; many have said that the rate increases they are facing will definitely restrict future recruitment and may require them having to let staff go, others have said to me it will most certainly prevent their affordability to make much needed investment to help them remain sustainable and to grow and trade profitably.”

Concern about business rates were also raised by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) yesterday as the Scottish Government published its Budget (Scotland) Bill.

SRC director David Lonsdale said 5,077 retail premises would continue to pay higher business rates than they would in comparable premises south of the Border.

“These public policy costs are a significant burden to retailers and are difficult to absorb, and we hope this Budget will be the start of recognising and alleviating that burden on retailers,” he said.

The comments were made as finance secretary Derek Mackay travelled to Aberdeen to discuss the issue with North-east firms who are also concerned about the hike.Speaking after meeting local companies, Mr Mackay ruled out a business rates freeze.

He said: “We can’t postpone the implementation of these new values but it is the case that businesses should engage with the assessor to make sure the assessor has got it right.”