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Saturday, April 13, 2024

McArthur Looks to Include Cruise Ships in Visitor Levy Bill

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Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has lodged amendments to the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill to allow a debate on the inclusion of cruise ship visitors within the scope of the legislation.

In light of concerns raised by local tourism businesses in Orkney, as well as Orkney islands Council, Mr McArthur is seeking to ensure the bill is both more flexible and fairer in the way that any levy might be applied by local authorities.

Commenting ahead of the Local Government Committee meeting that will begin consideration of Stage 2 amendments on the bill on Tuesday, Mr McArthur said:

“Providing local councils with the power to set a visitor levy is a reasonable step to take.

“As ever, though, the devil is in the detail.

“At present, Ministers have come forward with a bill that would apply to some parts of the tourism sector but not others.

“People in Orkney will not be alone in wondering why visitors to our islands who stay in hotels, self-catering or B&Bs should be charged, but not the increasingly large numbers who visit Orkney on cruise ships or indeed in mobile homes.

“All place demands on the local infrastructure and services, and all should therefore contribute.

“Anything else would be unfair and undermine business and public confidence in the scheme.

“I am concerned too at the lack of flexibility local councils will have in the way any levy will apply.

“Just because it works in Edinburgh or Glasgow doesn’t mean it will work in our islands.

“Councils should therefore have scope to apply any levy in ways that make sense in local circumstances, such as collection via airlines and ferry companies.

“I support the principle behind this legislation but getting the detail right will be crucial.

“Unfortunately, that has not been a strong suit of this SNP/Green Government over recent years.”

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