Edinburgh considering tourist tax

A general view of people walking along the Royal Mile on February 21, 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland. A favourite with visitors and one of the busiest streets in the city, the Royal Mile runs from Edinburgh Castle at the top down to Holyrood Palace at the foot.

(CNN) — Edinburgh is set to become the first city in the UK to impose a tourist tax.

These taxes, which attempt to charge visitors to popular destinations additional fees, are an attempt to cover the damage done by overtourism.

The city of Edinburgh is weighing the merits of a Transient Visitor Levy (TVL), aka a tourist tax.

“A TVL or tourist tax is defined as an additional charge on visitors staying overnight in paid accommodation,” explains a brief posted to the Edinburgh government website.

The Council has taken the view that an Edinburgh TVL is necessary and an appropriate way to secure future investment in the tourism industry and, in order to support the council to manage the impact of that success upon our services.”

The City Council in Scotland‘s biggest city has voted in favor of the £2 ($2.60) per day fee by a margin of 43 to 15.

The next step will be for members of the Scottish Parliament to approve the bill.

The daily £2 fee will be exempted for visitors who opt to camp rather than stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast and will be maxed out at seven days, so visitors who stay longer than a week would be charged a maximum of £14.

Should the bill pass, Edinburgh would join an increasing list of destinations who are turning to tourist taxes to maintain infrastructure and make up for lost revenues from visitors who don’t stay overnight.

In Venice, where a tourist tax was already in place for cruise ship passengers and other travelers not staying overnight, a new ruling has resulted in a €10 ($11) per person “disembarkment tax” for anyone who visits the city, including overnight guests.

Venice, whose precarious infrastructure was already in danger, has also taken measures to restrict crowds and separate residents from visitors in an effort to maintain a better quality of life for Venetians.

And last month, lawmakers on the Indonesian island of Bali drafted a bylaw to impose a tourist tax and use the money to clean beaches and collect trash.

The English city of Bath, amed for its Georgian architecture and connection to the author Jane Austen, is also considering a tourist tax. Local politicians favor the deal, while many in the local hospitality business believed the levy would hurt businesses by increasing prices.

Elsewhere in the UK, Birmingham, which has been selected to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, is considering a £2 ($2.60) per night fee on hotel rooms in order to offset some of the costs of constructing arenas for the Games.

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