TOURISTS will be taxed to stay in Glasgow under plans by the Scottish Government to let councils raise more cash.

Under the proposal, local authorities can impose a visitor levy on overnight stays to boost income for services.

Glasgow City Council’s treasurer has previously called for councils to have more power to raise money on top of council tax.

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Richard Bell had asked for the ability to raise cash through mechanisms like a charge for visitors or a congestion charge for non-Glasgow residents.

The Scottish Government has published a bill to bring in the visitor levy giving councils the power to introduce a tax if they want to.

It would see a percentage added to the cost of overnight stays.

The money would be used to fund services for, or used by, visitors.

Public finance minister, Tom Arthur, said: “Giving councils the power to introduce a visitor levy is one tool that will provide additional resources to continue to attract visitors to Scotland.

“Levies on visitors staying in paid-for accommodation are already used around the world and it is reasonable for local areas to want a small contribution from tourists to help support and sustain visitor economies.”

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The tourist industry has accepted a levy will come in and said it must be used to improve services and facilities to enhance the experience for visitors.

It does not like the term “tourist tax” which it feels is negative.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), said: “All income raised by any local authority that decides to proceed in implementing a visitor levy must be used to enhance tourism, which as a sector, delivers significant economic benefits for the nation and our communities.

“The visitor levy must be viewed as a force for good, rather than being labelled as a ‘tourism tax’, which is extremely damaging for Scotland’s reputation as a desirable tourist destination to domestic and international visitors.”

Councils welcomed the Bill as giving more power to local authorities.

Katie Hagman, Cosla resources spokesperson, said: “This represents a key step towards reaching Cosla’s long-standing goal of a more empowered Scottish local government.

“Cosla has consistently called for the ability of councils to set and raise taxes based on what is needed and decided locally.

"By providing each local authority with the power to set a rate charged to visitors, and to do so independently of the Scottish Government, the local visitor levy empowers local decision-making, with councils able to respond to the needs of their area and the people who live there.”