MANY cities have a tourist levy to provide a contribution from visitors to help develop and protect local services and public infrastructure.

Green councillors want Glasgow to have a thriving, sustainable tourism sector and we believe that the visitor levy could have an important role to play in achieving this.

This month, the Scottish Parliament supported the first stage of the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill.

The bill will allow local councils to introduce the visitor levy to hotels and overnight accommodation, similar to schemes already in place in popular tourist destinations across the world.

The provision of the scheme for local authorities in Scotland was secured by the Scottish Greens during budget negotiations in 2019 but was one of a number of bills postponed due to the Covid pandemic.

A visitor levy could generate additional, much needed cash for the local government and Glasgow’s tourism industry.

This can be used to fund essential services that benefit tourists and residents alike.

Visitor levy money has generated significant local income for local governments across 21 out of 27 European Union member states who make an additional charge paid on overnight accommodation.

Like many destinations around the world, such as Barcelona, Venice, Dubrovnik, Bruges and Porto, we could use visitor levies to enhance facilities in our
city centre and local neighbourhoods.

Levy funds can help to deliver local services such as street cleansing, public toilets, public footpaths and visitor attractions.

Funding can also provide cultural initiatives including music events and festivals.

The tourist levy could help make areas more attractive and improve the quality of the wider visitor experience.

We have seen the development of our film and TV sector which has resulted in a boost to the number of tourists at various locations used by productions like Outlander and 1917.

We can work with other cities including Edinburgh and in partnership with the tourism industry to plan for the introduction of a visitor charge, subject to legislative approval from the Scottish Parliament.

We also have to take into account that the Welsh government is considering the introduction of a visitor levy.

In addition, we can seek further updates on the introduction of the City Visitor Charge in Manchester which aims to fund the new Accommodation Business Improvement District, to improve the visit experience and support visitor economy over the next five years.

In 2023, a referendum involving hoteliers decided on the charge, with four in five voting in favour.

Their plan is to add 6000 hotel rooms and significantly increase the number of overnight stays.

We can celebrate Glasgow being named as one of the 50 best cities in the world in 2024 by Time Out.

We are fortunate that Glasgow is such a fantastic destination for tourists, whether from abroad, the rest of the UK or within Scotland.

More people will be choosing to explore and enjoy our city.

By diversifying the tax base for local government, the visitor levy would invest in local services and support the local economy to thrive.