A significant amendment to Scottish Visitor Levy plans has been welcomed by marine tourism stakeholders, after The Scottish Government confirmed changes will be made to a proposed bill created by the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee.
In a Stage 1 report on Visitor Levy, the Committee outlined proposals for a discretionary local council tax that would be the responsibility of certain types of accommodation providers to calculate as an overnight levy charge, to be paid to their local authority.
Following concern around the impact this may have on marine tourism providers, The Government has now agreed to a Stage 2 report which will see the exemption of boat moorings and berthings from this plan, unless they are permanently moored and used for accommodation.
Welcomed by British Marine, RYA Scotland, several marine tourism stakeholders, and the Parliamentary Committee leading on the bill, it’s hoped the move will come as a relief to many mooring providers, including small businesses and voluntary organisations.
RYA Scotland CEO Finlo Cottier said:
“A key role for RYA Scotland is to work with government to ensure that the needs of the recreational boating sector are represented.
“The removal of berthings and moorings from the Visitor Levy Bill has come about after considerable work with partners, not least British Marine Scotland, in putting together a case for this removal, facilitated by the Holyrood Cross Party Group for Leisure Boating and Marine Tourism, of which we are a member.
“Our aim was to encourage MSPs and Ministers to reconsider the inclusion of berths and moorings in the draft bill by highlighting the practical implications of its implementation.
“The result will be a relief not only for commercial marina operators but also for smaller, voluntary groups which provide safe havens around the coast of Scotland for local and visiting boaters alike.
“This success shows the importance of working constructively with our parliament and government.”
Relieved to see their input pay off, Chair of British Marine Scotland Sarah Kennedy said:
"We are immensely pleased that, having listened to our representations, the Scottish Government has accepted our case and now agreed that boat moorings and berthings should not be included in the legislation and will now bring forward an amendment.
“This is a huge relief as, without the amendment, the Visitor Levy would place an excessive burden on mooring providers, which includes many small businesses and voluntary organisations. Both the charge and administrative costs would otherwise have to be passed on to boaters irrespective of whether onboard accommodation is ever utilised or is even possible.
“We trust that the Scottish Parliament will support this forthcoming amendment and so help protect Scotland’s world-renowned leisure marine tourism offer.”
With the amendment noted as a ‘win’ for British Marine Scotland as well as RYA Scotland and the wider boating community, it’s understood the decision was suitably aided by evidence from stakeholders including RYA Scotland and The Yacht Harbour Association amongst other relevant stakeholders.
British Marine Scotland Chair Sarah Kennedy added: “We are also very grateful to the role of the Cross-Party Group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism and its Convenor, Stuart McMillan MSP, who helped to facilitate discussions with the Minister and his officials, alongside significant support from Marc Crothall and the Scottish Tourism Alliance.”
With the visitor levy amendment an exemplary case of partnership working between British Marine Scotland, the Cross Party Group on Recreational Boating, and RYA Scotland, we look forward to continued collaboration with The Scottish Government to protect the rights of recreational boaters.
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