Saturday, January 25, 2020
The skye times mobile

A Skye businessman has suggested the introduction of a tourist tax as a way of funding more facilities for visitors to the island.

Roger Booth owns a food van at the Quiraing and regularly tidies away litter left there.  He suggested that a charge as small as £1 would help pay for facilities such as public toilets and more car parks.

The Highland Council, said a change in law would be needed for a new tax.

A spokesperson said: "We would need legislative change to be able to levy any tourist tax so this is not an option currently available to Highland Council."

The leader of Highland Council, Margaret Davidson, said it would only become clear if such a tax would work well in the region once the local authority had spoken to more businesses.

David Richardson, Federation of Small Businesses’s development manager for the Highlands & Islands, said: “The recent increase in visitor numbers to Skye and the Northern Highlands has helped secure the futures of many marginal tourism businesses, extending their seasons and enabling some to expand and take on more staff, and it has also encouraged some exciting new businesses to start up.

"Fragile Highland communities are more secure as a result, though everyone acknowledges that our infrastructure is struggling to cope.

“National and local governments already benefit from the tax revenues flowing directly and indirectly from tourism businesses and their customers, and they have a responsibility to support this vital industry by investing some of this income in the provision of essential infrastructure. 

“Tourists are fickle and numbers can go down as well as up for a whole variety of reasons. If we want a secure and stable Highland tourism industry we must improve our product without making what is already a very expensive holiday destination more expensive still.”

Independent Councillor John Gordon stated that Highland Council is investing at the Quiraing, the Storr and the Fairy Pools with parking and facilities hoped-for by summer 2018.  

He also stated that the new administration are working towards a strategic plan for the island to engage communities.  

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