Tourist tax Scotland: Campervans must be included in tourist tax plans, says Highland Council, amid over-tourism fears
Bill Lobban said the number of motorhomes visiting the area increased by 33 per cent between 2021 and 2022, and has potentially risen even further this year. He said it was "almost inconceivable" those parking campervans at registered sites will have to pay, but those who pull up by the side of the road will not.
MSPs on Holyrood’s local government, housing and planning committee are scrutinising plans to allow councils to charge a fee on overnight visitor stays.
The new fee would be a percentage of visitors’ accommodation costs, and would apply to those staying in hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, self-catering accommodation, campsites, caravan parks and boat moorings.
The money raised would then be reinvested locally in facilities or services used by tourists. Many European cities have introduced similar charges.
However, while campers and motorhomes staying on campsites would have to pay the proposed charge, those who simply park or pitch up would not.
Giving evidence to MSPs on Tuesday, Mr Lobban said: "We have to find some way of including campervans in the process. It may require a technological solution that maybe we don't have at the moment, but by having it in the Bill, it would allow this to come forward in the future.
"I think when you consider that between 2021 and 2022, campervan numbers increased by 33 per cent in Highland, and those numbers allegedly increased even further in 2023.
"So I think it's almost inconceivable that if you have a campervan and you stay overnight in a registered site, and you're paying an overnight accommodation rate, that you would then be charged a visitor levy, but if you park in one of our lay-bys by the side of the street you wouldn't. I think campervans really need to be included.”
The Scottish Government has previously said revenue raised by a new tax could be used by councils “to invest in campsite facilities or to increase funding to local ranger services who engage frequently with people to promote responsible access in the outdoors”.
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