Local tourist tax is not ruled out

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A tourist tax could hit visitors booking hotels in South Ayrshire, after the council declined to rule out introducing the transient visitor tax.

It would involve people forking out a surplus charge for rooms when staying in the area.

It is understood 693,000 people visit the region every year.

The Scottish Government is giving local authorities the power to introduce the move.

Council leader Douglas Campbell said no decision has been made yet on whether South Ayrshire will tax visitors. 

During his budget speech, he said: “In respect of the transient visitor tax we will keep under review the progress made by the Scottish Government and other councils and make a decision at a later date.”

The Scottish Government also gave councils the choice of imposing a workplace car parking levy on staff. 

Councillor Campbell said it will not happen in South Ayrshire.

He said: “In respect of the car parking levy this administration will not seek to establish such a levy.”

The tourist tax can’t be imposed until Holyrood passes legislation to enable local authorities to implement it. It might not happen until 2021. Edinburgh politicians are backing the charge in their city.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance has expressed disappointment about the potential tax on visitors.

Sightseers flock to South Ayrshire for a raft of attractions including Culzean Castle, Burns Cottage, the beaches and Ayr Racecourse among others.

The tourist office in Ayr, which was operated by VisitScotland, closed in 2018. The Ayr iCentre was based in Lady Cathcart’s old townhouse, which is an interesting historic landmark in itself.