A Scottish local authority is to consult on a possible tourist tax to help pay for local infrastructure.
The Highland Council said it will carry out a public consultation on the implementation of ‘transient visitor levy’ in the New Year.
At a council meeting last week it was agreed that in addition to the council submitting its response to the Scottish Government’s review on the possible introduction of tourism taxes, launched in October, it would highlight its plans to consult on the issue of a tourism levy.
Edinburgh City Council has also lobbied for councils to be given powers to introduce tourism taxes.
The council said that during its public engagement activity last month, ‘a strong theme was support for raising income from tourism, including a tourist levy, which could support local infrastructure, as well as the tourism sector itself’.
Cllr Allan Henderson, chair of the council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee. said: ‘While the Council will be responding to the national consultation it is important that we add to this debate by gathering information that is specific to Highland.
‘To do so, we need to engage with as wide an audience as possible to help decide what and where is unique and special about Highland tourism so that we can make the case for Highland at a national level.’
Opposition leader Cllr Maxine Smith said: ‘I have been lobbying for this for several years now. I sincerely believe there is a way to raise money that will benefit both local Council services, that are affected by so many tourists, such as potholes, toilets etc., but that will also benefit the tourism sector.
‘Anything we make better in the Highlands will be good for all, not just tourists, but if you are visiting an area and it cannot provide you with quality ancillary products, such as sufficient laybys, toilets, parking sites, waste services then you are less likely to return. If people visit us here and have a first class time, they will tell others and also return another year.’