HOTEL CEO WARNS SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE
29th Jun 2006
- Local Government Finance Review Committee Head, Sir Peter Burt, warned taxing tourists could put 2, 857 Summer tourism jobs at risk -
The warning was made by Grant Hearn, CEO of Travelodge and operator of 22 hotels in Scotland, who today attacked a review submission by Edinburgh Council supporting a tourism tax as a source of local authority funding.
Hearn warned The Executive that its plan to double the current £4.8(1) Billion tourism economy in Scotland by 2015 would be in jeopardy if it proceeds with a tourist tax.
Travelodge predicted that a tax of 10% would decrease peak season (June-August) tourism revenue by potentially £120 million(2) putting 2, 857 tourism jobs at risk. Travelodge has today submitted a formal submission to the Review Committee urging its Chair, Sir Peter Burt, not to damage an industry that is strategically important to the Scottish economy.
Grant Hearn, CEO of Travelodge said: "I am disturbed by the lack of foresight local authorities demonstrate when they call for local tourist taxes as a means to boost local finances. The two are not mutual. In fact, the economic advantages of high visitor numbers and high spending enjoyed by places like Edinburgh would be severely threatened by taxing tourists out of Scotland.
"Attracting more visitors to stay longer is the key to raising the additional revenue needed for local government funding. This means maintaining a tourism product that is value for money and affordable - something that is lost in the debate at the moment. I also urge large local hotel companies to wake up to this threat and voice their opposition which has to date been silent."
Last month Hearn criticised the 'Thundering Hooves' Reports tourist tax proposals, which he said would undermine the price competitiveness of Scotland's tourism capital Edinburgh. Edinburgh tourism receipts account for a 1/3 of Scotland's tourism income.
Travelodge research(3) revealed that 77% of people were more likely to holiday overseas as a result of the cost increases of a tourist tax. Furthermore, 67% said they would reconsider the length of their holiday putting at risk, an average trip spend in Scotland of £354.
Travelodge's submission refers to research revealing 50% of visitors would cut back on spending on attractions, if they also had to pay a local tourist tax. Visitors to Scotland go to on average 4 attractions per holiday spending £60. Scotland's top attractions are: 1) Edinburgh Castle, 2) Edinburgh Zoo and 3) Glasgow Science Centre.
Research also reveals that Scotland came top of a UK poll of the most recent holiday destinations for domestic tourists: 1) 15% Scotland, 2)Wales 10.8%, 3) South West of England 10.2%, 4) South Coast 10% and 5) London 8%.
For further information, please contact:
Mark Hutcheon, ReputationInc, Tel: 020 7758 2800/ 07739 181 352
Notes to Editor:
- The Scottish tourism industry employs 200, 000 full time jobs
- The Independent Local Government Finance Review Committee is due to report its findings in October.
- A 'No to Bed Tax' Campaign is England is being led by Travelodge, VisitBritain, British Hotel Association, Tourism Alliance, VisitLondon and Caterer magazine
- The US is Scotland's biggest market for overseas tourists (24%)