TRAVELODGE CEO SLAMS BURT REPORT
9th Nov 2006
Grant Hearn, Travelodge Chief Executive and operator of 22 hotels in Scotland, described former banker Sir Peter Burt's support for a tourism tax on Scottish hotel businesses as "a school boy error of the highest order."
Grant Hearn, Travelodge Chief Executive said: "Handing tourism tax powers to local authorities will have severe economic consequences for Scotland's tourism industry. Burt's logic is flawed and it is he, not the Scottish Executive that fails to understand the corrosive effects of tourism taxes.
"His threat to tax 'multi-national chains' is thinly veiled protectionism and even worse misses the point. Travelodge re-invests profits in local jobs, new and upgraded hotels and lower prices for consumers. I will seriously rethink investing further in Scotland if this tax is adopted.
"Tourism taxes have failed elsewhere in Europe and they will fail in Scotland. The bottom line is that tourism tax could price the 20.1 million* annual visitors to Scotland out of a return visit. This report is really the 'Unfair Way' for Scotland's biggest industry.
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 on the Burt Inquiry panel. I urge the powerful Scottish tourism industry to stand up to tourism tax as it is a cynical money grab on tourists.
Hearn also criticised Edinburgh Council who called for tourism taxes to be debated. Commenting, he said, "Edinburgh accounts for a third of Scotland's tourism income yet its own tourism bosses want higher taxation. This is a seriously dangerous proposal; the council clearly doesn't understand the risks associated with such a tax: lower tourism revenue and possible job losses. They don't even suggest how it would work and at what level - this instability will be bad for industry."
Travelodge research** revealed 77% of people said they would be more likely to holiday overseas as a result of the cost increases of a tourist tax.
Furthermore, 67% said they would re-consider the length of their holiday, putting at risk an average trip spend in Scotland of £354.
For further information, please contact: Mark Hutcheon, ReputationInc, Tel: 020 7758 2800/ 07739 181 352
Notes to Editors:
The Scottish tourism industry employs 200,000 full time jobs. Overseas visitors spend £890 million a year on holiday accommodation in Scotland.
*Sources United Kingdom Tourism Survey UKTS International Passenger Survey IPS
**Source Survey commissioned by Travelodge March 2006
***Sources United Kingdom Tourism Survey UKTS International Passenger Survey IPS