Labour’s unravelling Devolution Commission proposals faced further criticism today – as it was warned that the plans would see a double whammy blow for the Scottish tourism industry.
The proposals would see local authorities given the ability to levy a Tourist Tax on hotel stays – despite a similar plan that had previously been considered for Edinburgh being widely condemned by hoteliers amidst fears it could put the city at a competitive disadvantage.
Local MSP Joan McAlpine warned that Labour’s plans could areas like Dumfries and Galloway at a competitive disadvantage.
The SNP MSP said:
“Labour’s Tourism Tax will deeply worry business across the country. Our tourism industry is one of our greatest strengths – why would Labour want to put this at risk?
“In the south of Scotland region I represent, the tourism sector is very important to the local economy.
“for example, In Dumfries and Galloway it accounts for more than 11 % of employment - placing it in the top three employment sectors - and supports over 7’000 jobs.
“There is a real fear that Labour’s plans - were they to come into force - could impact heavily and disproportionately on rural communities across Scotland to which the tourism sector is integral to the local economy.”
Labour’s Devolution Commission report also ruled out the transfer of powers over Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Scotland – despite the interim report ruling that the powers should be devolved. This is despite the fact that APD has already been devolved to Northern Ireland.
The UK’s level of APD is one of the highest in the world – and is estimated to cost Scotland around £200m per year in lost tourism spend. Scotland’s Future makes clear that after a Yes vote, APD would be halved in the first parliament and abolished completely when the public finances allow – as supported by key figures in the airline industry and by airports in Scotland.
Ms McAlpine added:
“The tourism industry will also be disappointed by Labour’s failure to propose the devolution of powers over Air Passenger Duty – despite this being suggested by their own interim report. Johann Lamont must explain why she has allowed the anti-devolution faction in her party to trample on the interests of Scottish business.
“With a Yes vote, the Scottish Government would cut Air Passenger Duty by half and eventually abolish it – encouraging more direct flights to Scotland, cutting carbon emissions and supporting the tourism industry.”