Western Isles council plans motorhome and campervan tax for tourists

Western Isles residents are being asked to consider a plan to tax tourists visiting the area in campervans and motorhomes.

A Comhairle nan Eilean Siar council spokesperson said the implementation of such a tax would see visitors making a “small contribution” towards the upkeep of services they use in the area.

The plans follow concerns about campervans and motorhomes taking up ferry car deck space and not contributing significantly to the Outer Hebrides economy.

The Western Isles Council said the Scottish Government and ferry firm Calmac would also be consulted as part of the public consultation.

Council Convener Norman Macdonald told the BBC that discussions with the local tourism industry would take place first as he said the isles had experienced “significant” numbers of campervans over the summer tourist season.

Mr Macdonald said: “We are not talking about huge sums of money. We just want a contribution towards the infrastructure we, as a council, are required to put in place.”

The Western Isles have been an extremely popular tourist spot for people hoping to stay closer to home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Scottish Government is also implementing new legislation for a short-term visitor tax named ‘a transient visitor levy’. This would give local authorities the ability to tax tourists, contributing towards local infrastructure and services. It has been estimated this could generate £5 million to £10m each year, depending on how a scheme was designed, The Scotsman reports.

A Comhairle spokesperson said: “While the Comhairle’s message to campervan and motorhome visitors has, from the outset, been not to visit the Western isles unless they have a booking at an official campsite, that facilities and services at campsites are not open, it is apparent that this is being largely ignored with resultant adverse impacts on the local environment.”

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