Plans for UK's first tourism tax will be watched closely in Yorkshire

A plan which would see all overnight visitors to Scotland pay a tax – ringfenced for spending on tourism improvements – has been set out in detail, and will be watched closely by industry bosses in other high-frequency areas, such as Yorkshire.

The Scottish Government, which has published the plans, has said the money raised could help attract more visitors to the country, with money spent on improving infrastructure and services for tourists.

Similar schemes already operate throughout Europe, and are often set on a localised basis.

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Public finance minister Tom Arthur said while Scotland is already a very popular tourist destination for people from the UK and overseas, giving councils the ability to introduce a visitor levy is “one tool that will provide additional resources to continue to attract visitors”.

The North Yorkshire Moors railwayThe North Yorkshire Moors railway
The North Yorkshire Moors railway

He was speaking as the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill was published at Holyrood, which if passed will allow councils to levy a charge on overnight visitors.

The levy would be a percentage of their accommodation costs, and would apply to those staying in hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, self-catering accommodation, campsites, caravan parks and boat moorings or berthings.

The money raised would then be reinvested locally in facilities or services used by tourists.

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Under the proposals, councils would have to consult communities, businesses and tourism organisations in their area before introducing the charge – with consultation also required on how the funds raised would be spent.