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Visit Scotland | Alba

In May 2024, MSPs backed legislation giving local authorities a new power to introduce a visitor levy that would raise funding for local visitor facilities and services.

The Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill will enable local authorities to apply a levy on overnight stays with all money raised to be reinvested in services and facilities largely used by tourists and business visitors.

VisitScotland was invited by Scottish Ministers to chair an expert group comprised of representatives from the tourism industry, local authorities and Scottish Government. The group will consider guidance and best practice to assist local authorities and businesses using the levy. 

1. What's the purpose and scope of the group?

The group will develop guidance and best practice for local authorities on elements of the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill. This will ensure the new discretionary power works for both businesses and communities.

They will also encourage and support joint working with local authorities and the tourism industry. This will be on matters around the introduction of a visitor levy.

With regards to the bill, the group will provide guidance about provisions or parts of it as determined by the group members. This includes any agreed amendments.

With regards to the implementation of the visitor levy, the group will provide guidance about any provision or part of the bill. This includes any agreed amendments. They do so to help a local authority understand how a visitor levy will be implemented in their area.

The group will not consider matters unrelated to the provisions in the bill or any potential amendments or changes to the bill.

They will determine the work plan and structure they wish to follow to deliver the guidance and best practice.

2. Who's in the Visitor Levy Expert Group?

The group is chaired by VisitScotland. It comprises members from across Scottish Government, local authority, and sector groups. Members of the Visitor Levy Expert Group are:

  • Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers
  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
    • Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)
    • Local authorities
    • Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE)
  • Scottish Government
  • Scottish Tourism Alliance
  • UK Hospitality Scotland
  • VisitScotland

Revenue Scotland have also joined the expert group in an observer capacity.

As workstreams are taken forward, members may consult with organisations and / or people outside the group. This is for members to inform themselves on drafting of the guidance.

3. Meeting notes

Minutes from each meeting will be recorded and published on this page after approval at subsequent meetings.

4. Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill timeline

Should the bill get through all stages, local authorities are expected to do the following before a visitor levy can be implemented:

  • undertake assessments
  • conduct appropriate local consultation

Scottish Government does not expect a visitor levy will be implemented anywhere in Scotland before early 2026.

The timeline of the bill

  • Introduction

    • The bill (proposed law) was introduced on 24 May 2023.
    • The Scottish Government introduces the bill and accompanying documents to parliament. The later subsequently publishes the bill.
  • Stage one – general principles

    • Committees examine the bill and gather views. They produce reports before MSPs debate the bill in the chamber. MSPs then decide on the purpose (“general principles”) of the bill.
    • The call for views closed on 15 September and these are available to read on the Scottish Parliament website.
    • The stage one debate took place on 16 January 2024, where MSPs agreed on the general principles of the Bill. The legislation will progress to stage two of the process.
  • Stage two

    • The bill undergoes more detailed "line-by-line" scrutiny. This is done either by the appropriate committee, the whole parliament, or a combination of the two. Amendments (changes) may be made at this stage.
    • Scrutiny of 51 amendments was completed by the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee on 12 March 2024. This brings stage two to an end.
  • Stage three

    • The bill is considered by the whole parliament.
    • Amendments can be made at this stage.
    • The parliament votes on the bill. If parliament agrees, the bill is passed. If Parliament does not agree, the bill falls.
    • MSPs voted on the bill in parliament on 28 May 2024. The Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill was passed. Find out more about the final changes and vote on the Scottish Government website.
    • With the bill now passed, there is a four-week period when it may be challenged by:
      • the Advocate General for Scotland
      • the Lord Advocate
      • the Secretary of State for Scotland
  • Royal assent

    • After the four-week period has expired the Presiding Officer submits the bill for royal assent.
    • Once the bill receives royal assent it becomes an Act of the Scottish Parliament.
    • All bills passed by the Scottish Parliament must be signed by the monarch before they can become law.

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